Posted on July 2, 2024

French Candidates Make Hurried Deals to Try to Stop Far-Right National Rally From Leading Government

Barbara Surk and Diane Jeantet, Associated Press, July 2, 2024

French opposition parties made hurried deals Tuesday to try to block a landslide victory for Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in Sunday’s second round of legislative elections, as she said her party would lead the government only if it wins an absolute majority — or close to it.

The National Rally, under party president Jordan Bardella, secured the most votes in the first round of the early legislative elections on June 30 but not enough to claim an overall victory that would allow the formation of France’s first far-right government since World War II.

“We cannot accept going into government if we cannot act,” Le Pen said in an interview with public broadcaster France Inter. “It would be the worst betrayal of our voters.” However, “if we have, say, 270 lawmakers, we need 19 more, we will go to others and ask them if they are ready to participate with us in a new majority.”

Round one propelled the National Rally closer than ever to government but left open the possibility that voters could block its path to power on Sunday.

An unprecedented number of candidates who qualified for round two from the left-wing alliance of the New Popular Front and from President Emmanuel Macron’s weakened centrists have stepped aside to favor the candidate most likely to win against a National Rally opponent. Several Cabinet ministers were among those who abandoned the race.

According to a count by French newspaper Le Monde, some 218 candidates supposed to compete in the second round have pulled out. Of those, 130 were on the left and 82 came from the Macron-led centrist alliance Ensemble, it counted. Candidates had until 6 p.m. local time to withdraw.

The interior ministry was not immediately available to respond to a request to confirm those numbers.


Macron himself warned that the far right could set France on a path to civil war.