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Jun 13, 2024, 8:51am EDT
politicsEurope
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Semafor Signals

Macron asks France to reject ‘extremist fever’ as center-right party leader forges pact with far-right

Insights from Le Monde, The Nation, and Politico

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Reuters/Stephane Mahe
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French President Emmanuel Macron urged voters to reject “extremist fever” in favor of the middle ground as the country’s main center-right party’s leader forged a clandestine deal with the far-right ahead of a snap election later this month.

Les Républicains voted to oust Éric Ciotti as leader after saying he held “secret negotiations” to unite with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally “without consulting” party members. Ciotti meanwhile insisted on Thursday that he was still the party leader.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Le Pen had been waiting to fuse the far-right and right

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Sources:  
Le Monde, European Council on Foreign Relations , Politico

Ciotti’s alliance claim marked a “dangerous surrender” to the far-right, which Marine Le Pen has been waiting for, Le Monde argued. But Macron may also be to blame: His decision to call an election when the NR was at its strongest and Les Républicains comparatively weak “created the conditions of [the center-right’s] death sentence.” This could be France’s so-called “Brexit moment,” where Macron’s gamble will unleash a new Eurosceptic dawn for France, a professor of European studies argued in the European Council on Foreign Relations. But the Brexit comparison is a little false, a former Paris correspondent wrote in Politico, because although Britain’s departure did some damage to the EU, a French de facto defection under Le Pen could be “mortal.”



The left is trying to organise, but internal squabbling persists

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Sources:  
The Financial Times , The Nation

France’s left-wing parties are “usually fractured,” but their success in hashing out a new alliance, Front Populaire — named after the short-lived interwar coalition of French leftist factions that won an election in 1936 but dissolved two years later — is a sign of the times, the Financial Times reported. Yet behind its show of unity lurk fundamental disagreements on key geopolitical issues, and unrest is brewing over the prospect of controversial far-left France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon taking a pivotal role in the alliance. If the left manages to survive this uphill battle, however, it could “provide a much-needed boon of electability and enthusiasm,” and puncture the “illusion” that French voters have only Macron and the National Rally to choose between, a columnist argued in The Nation.

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