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French conservative leader defends agreement with far right in major turnaround

The leader of the French conservative party The Republicans (LR, its French acronym) called for an alliance between his group’s candidates and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) in an early parliamentary election – a political turnaround that will have wide repercussions.

“We say the same things, so let’s stop creating an imaginary opposition,” Eric Ciotti told broadcaster TF1. “This is what the vast majority of our voters want. They tell us ‘come to an agreement’.”

The RN, a far-right, anti-immigration and eurosceptic party, is expected to emerge as France’s main force after President Emmanuel Macron called an election for June 30 and July 7, although it may fall short in a absolute majority.

Therefore, the RN is looking for allies to guarantee control of Parliament and immediately praised Ciotti’s comment. But this in turn means that the LR must implode.

Ciotti’s statements also meant that a decades-long consensus in France’s political establishment to join forces to keep the far right out of power is disappearing.

The Republicans and their earlier versions – all heirs to the parties of Charles de Gaulle and Jacques Chirac – have been in power for much of France’s modern political history.

But LR is a shadow of its former self, with far fewer parliamentarians, and had already lost key members to Macron’s centrist party and the far right.

Other traditional parties on the left and right have also weakened since Macron was first elected president in 2017 on a centrist platform with an emerging party that wanted to reshape France’s political landscape.

Philippe Gosselin, an LR lawmaker, told Reuters he will leave the party over Ciotti’s comments and that LR members will create a new group.

“It is unthinkable for me (and for many LR deputies) that there could be the slightest agreement, the slightest alliance, even local or personal, with the RN,” said Gosselin.

Other LR veterans lined up to reject any deal with the far right. A party parliamentary source estimated that only about a sixth of parliamentarians would accept such a deal.

Olivier Marleix, who leads the LR group in the lower house of Parliament, said on X: “What Eric Ciotti is saying is valid only for himself, he must leave the leadership of the Republicans.”

Macron’s group was quick to say that Ciotti’s comments were shameful and, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, a former LR member, were reminiscent of the 1938 Munich agreements signed by France and the United Kingdom with the Nazi germany.

Meanwhile, left-wing parties have promised to work together and nominate joint candidates in the election, but have not yet reached a formal agreement.

In a joint statement on Monday, the Socialists, Greens, Communists and members of the Unsubmissive France party promised to “present an alternative to Emmanuel Macron and fight against the racist project of the far right.”

Although the outcome of the vote is difficult to predict, victory does not appear to be within the left’s reach. However, they may hope to influence who is named prime minister.

Source: CNN Brasil

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