The French left moves to strengthen its alliance before early elections

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Leaders of France’s left-wing New Popular Front have moved to strengthen their new coalition for upcoming early elections after it was rocked by a purge of moderates. extreme left party.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon angered colleagues and leaders of other parties late Friday when he dropped several critics and supporters of the coalition from his party’s list of candidates.

He included on the list Adrien Quatennens, a sponsored and controversial MP from Mélenchon’s France Insoumise – France Unbowed, or LFI – party who had been convicted of domestic violence, sparking a backlash from other NPF leaders.

On Saturday, Mélenchon defied his purge, telling news agency that “political cohesion and loyalty within the largest parliamentary group of the left are mandatory to govern” .

But on Sunday, Quatennens withdrew his candidacy, which seemed to signal Mélenchon’s partial withdrawal.

Mélenchon, a deeply polarized politician, said he would not insist on becoming prime minister if the left emerged from the election with the most seats. Mélenchon’s premiership would be a worrying prospect for other left-wing parties and many voters.

Adrien Quatennens
Adrien Quatennens withdrew from the election after being included on the candidate list of France’s Insoumise, sparking a backlash © Adrien Quatennens Youtube Channel/AFP via Getty Images

“If you don’t think I should be prime minister then I won’t,” he told France TV while speaking to his NPF comrades.

The formation of a united left front is an important development ahead of the elections on June 30 and July 7. It could seriously damage the prospects of candidates for the coalition. Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance by making it much more difficult for them to qualify for the second round second leg.

Left-wing parties are deeply divided over the economy, EU and Ukraine policies, but have buried their differences to maximize their chances against Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

They have united behind a common program with a progressive tax and spending agenda, adding to investor jitters ahead of the election. Mélenchon said the left-wing program is expected to raise taxes worth 123 billion euros a year.

In a show of commitment to the new coalition – which includes Eurosceptic far-left populists and pro-EU social democrats – former socialist president François Hollande said he would run for parliament as an NPF candidate.

However, Mélenchon’s purge of the party just hours after the New Popular Front launched its campaign created serious tensions within the coalition. Olivier Faure, the socialist leader, called it “scandalous.”

Alexis Corbières, one of the MPs disqualified as a candidate, told France Info: “Settling scores is absolutely petty, petty when the challenge now is to prevent the far right from taking power .

Another, Raquel Garrido, posted on X: “Shame on you, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. This is vandalism. But I can do better. We can do better.”

Political parties are scrambling to list their candidates for the election before the 6pm deadline on Sunday.

Hollande’s candidacy in his hometown of Corrèze surprised his colleagues. If elected, Hollande would become the second former head of state to win a seat in the National Assembly since the founding of France’s fifth republic. The other is Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

Hollande said this was “an exceptional decision in an exceptional situation”, as the far right is closer to power than at any time since France’s liberation from Nazi occupation in 1945 .

To win as many seats as possible, Macron’s centrist coalition is trying to strike local reciprocity agreements so as not to pit against each other centre-right candidates who refuse to support the RN.

The center-right party Les Républicains also fell into chaos after its leader, Éric Ciotti, unilaterally agreed to an alliance with the far-right.

Angry colleagues on the party executive unanimously voted to expel Ciotti, but the decision was overturned by a Paris court on Friday night, leaving it unclear who was responsible for the candidate list .


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