France’s Macron asks rivals to unite against far right

Michel Rose and Elizabeth Pineau |

French President Emmanuel Macron wants moderate politicians from the left and the right to regroup.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants moderate politicians from the left and the right to regroup.

Rival parties on both sides of the political centre are being urged to join French President Emmanuel Macron in forging a democratic alliance against Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in an upcoming snap legislative election.

In what amounted to a campaign speech just days after he up-ended French politics by calling the election, Macron acknowledged making mistakes, saying people had expressed indignation but felt they were not being heard.

“I do not want to give the keys to power to the extreme right in 2027, so I fully accept having triggered a movement to provide clarification,” he said, charging that National Rally policies would impoverish workers and retirees.

French President Emmanuel Macron
President Emmanuel Macron has up-ended French politics by calling a snap election. (AP PHOTO)

Macron called the election in a shock move after the anti-immigration National Rally trounced his Renaissance party in European Parliament elections on Sunday.

Even if National Rally wins a majority in the vote scheduled for June 30 and July 7, Macron would remain president for three more years and still be in charge of defence and foreign policy. 

However, he would lose control of the domestic agenda, including economic policy, security, immigration and finances.

Macron said at his press conference he would not quit if his camp lost and he would not debate Le Pen.

Instead, he called on “many of our compatriots and political leaders who do not recognise themselves in the extremist fever” to “build a new project … a coalition to govern, a coalition to act in the service of the French and for the republic”.

He pledged to take a firmer hand in questions of immigration, security and justice, arguing that a far left prone to anti-Semitism would be too “lax”.

The extreme right’s solutions would not solve the problems and would only bulldoze France’s constitutional rule of law, he said.

Macron also decried the political horsetrading of the past few days, saying “the mask has come off” some parties seeking to forge “unnatural alliances”.

Republicans party chief Eric Ciotti, who has appealed for an electoral alliance between his party’s candidates and the National Rally, had made “a deal with the devil”, Macron said.

French far-right National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen
Emannuel Macron has ruled out debating French far-right National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen. (AP PHOTO)

The anti-immigration, Eurosceptic National Rally is projected to emerge as the strongest force after the election but could fall short of an absolute majority, a poll this week showed.

Ciotti’s pact, which would ditch a decades-long consensus among France’s mainstream political parties to block the far right from power, has up-ended the Republicans.

Party chiefs called an emergency meeting for later on Wednesday, with some saying Ciotti’s time was up.

“He will no longer be president of the Republicans,” Republicans Senator Agnes Evren told BFM TV.

“He will be fired…he has no legitimacy.”

Macron’s election call has been met with gloom among the Renaissance rank-and-file, with little appetite for a bruising campaign.

Edouard Philippe, Macron’s former prime minister and a potential successor in the 2027 presidential election, appeared to hint at the dismay among the centrist coalition and questions over how prominent a role Macron should play in the campaign.

“I’m not sure it’s entirely healthy for the president of the republic to run a legislative campaign,” he said on BFM TV on Tuesday night.

Reuters