France's far right seeks majority in snap poll

AFP , Tuesday 18 Jun 2024

French far-right leader Jordan Bardella Tuesday urged voters to give his alliance a clear majority in snap polls on June 30 to be able to act unhampered as prime minister.

French PM
France s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (2nd L) takes part in a campaign event for Renaissance candidate for the legislative elections Benjamin Haddad (not pictured) in Paris. AFP

 

The bloc of President Emmanuel Macron is currently trailing third in polls behind the far right and a new left-wing alliance and faces an uphill struggle to narrow the gap with less than two weeks before the first round.

"I need an absolute majority," Bardella, the 28-year-old leader of the far-right National Rally (RN) party, told CNews and Europe 1 broadcasters.

"I don't want to be the president's assistant," he said.

Macron, who lost his absolute majority in parliament in 2022, called for the legislative vote on June 30, with a second round on July 7, after the RN trounced his centrist alliance in European elections.

His risky gamble to gain a better hold over the lower chamber has caused the left and right to form eleventh-hour alliances with hardliners to garner more votes in the elections just weeks before Paris hosts the Olympics in July and August.

Bardella, whose party has aligned itself with part of the traditional right for the June 30 vote, is hoping to win enough seats to become the youngest ever leader of French government.

Bardella told voters they had a "historic opportunity to change the course of history".

"But to do that I need an absolute majority," he said.

With less than a fortnight before the vote, a new poll has underlined that the far right could come out on top of the vote.

According to the IFOP poll for the LCI TV channel, the RN would take 33 percent of the vote, the New Popular Front left-wing alliance 28 percent and Macron's ruling centrists just 18 percent.

But such an outcome would mean that the RN would be unlikely to win the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly.

'Plague and cholera'

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, 35, the youngest person to lead the country's government, urged voters to choose his party's candidates from the first round as the only "credible" alternative to keep the far right and hard left out of power.

He said the far right and hard left had programmes that would lead France "straight to bankruptcy" if they won.

Former minister Francois Bayrou, a key ally of the president, told another radio channel, Sud Radio, that the country faced two "menacing blocs" on either side on the political spectrum.

He said he would do all he could to fight two options he described as "the plague and cholera".

Later Tuesday, Macron was to visit the island of Sein off the south-west tip of Brittany to mark the 84th anniversary of World War II resistance leader Charles de Gaulle's rallying cry against Nazi occupation.

Macron was to pay tribute to the 128 islanders who sailed in their fishing boats for England after hearing de Gaulle's call to join the Resistance, the Elysee said.

Since calling the elections, Macron -- who is in power until 2027 -- has kept a low profile in the campaign, which is being led by the more popular Attal.

A video has gone viral of a voter on Monday telling Attal during a campaign stop: "You're okay, but you need to tell the president to keep his mouth shut".

Attal admitted that there were French who were "angry" or "unhappy with the dissolution" of parliament, but emphasised that Macron had been "elected until 2027".

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