Macron Defends Early Election After Far-Right Gains

June 13, 2024 by No Comments

French President Emmanuel Macron defended his decision to call snap parliamentary elections following his party’s significant loss in the European parliamentary vote, asserting on Wednesday that voters will ultimately choose the “progressive bloc” over the far-right.

In France, legislative elections determine the composition of the parliament, not the occupant of the presidential Élysée Palace. Macron holds a presidential mandate until 2027, and he stated that he would not resign before the end of his term.

The somber-looking French leader said his decision to call early polls – the voting will occur in two rounds, on June 30 and July 7 – demonstrated his “confidence” in the French people. He urged moderate politicians from the left and the right to unite with his own centrist alliance to defeat the far-right.

“I think the French are intelligent, they see what’s being done, what’s coherent and what’s not, and they know what to do,” Macron said. He added: “I don’t believe at all that the worst can happen. You see, I’m an indefatigable optimist.”

The 46-year-old addressed French voters in his first news conference since his surprising Sunday decision to dissolve the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, after Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party triumphed in the European Parliament vote.

Macron sought to address concerns of those who fear the risky move could result in the French far-right leading the government for the first time since .

Since Sunday evening, crowds have been gathering daily in Paris and across the country to protest against the National Rally.

Macron was firm in his belief that voters would choose against both extremes of the political spectrum. He assured that he was not succumbing to defeatism and said he would serve out his second presidential term regardless of the outcome of the legislative vote.

Macron said his decision is “about allowing political forces chosen by the French to be able to govern.” He added that it’s “awkward to think it has to be the extreme right or political extremes. Or maybe you’ve got the spirit of defeat spread everywhere.”

“If that’s what people are afraid of, it’s time now to take action,” he said.

Macron justified his decision by the fact that he couldn’t ignore the new political reality after his pro-European party suffered a disheartening defeat, garnering less than half the support of the National Rally led by Jordan Bardella.

Unlike his recent national addresses where Macron focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine and how Europe should forge a common defense policy, independent of the United States, and strengthen trade protections, the French president stuck to his country’s internal issues favored by the surging right, including curbing immigration, combating crime, and addressing Islamic separatism in France.

Macron, who is in his second and final presidential term, said he hopes voters will unite to contain the far-right in national elections in a way they didn’t in European ones. He called on “men and women of goodwill who were able to say ‘no’ to extremes on the left and the right to join together to be able to build a joint project” for the country.

“Things are simple today: we have unnatural alliances at both extremes, who quite agree on nothing except the jobs to be shared, and who will not be able to implement any program,” Macron said.

While he appeared to project the kind of enthusiasm that helped him become president in 2017, analysts say French voters are more pessimistic about their future, and see Macron as increasingly out of touch with real life and financial challenges.

The French president acknowledged some mistakes made by his pro-business centrist party while sharply criticizing some conservatives who have decided to team up with Le Pen’s National Rally, which has a history of racism and xenophobia. He scathingly called an alliance formed by parties on the left as “unusual and incoherent” after they included the hard-left France Unbowed of Jean-Luc Mélenchon who, Macron said “justified anti-Semitic policies” in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

“We’re not perfect, we haven’t done everything right, but we have results… and above all, we know how to act,” Macron said of his Renaissance party, adding that the “far-right (is) the main danger” in the upcoming election.

“The question is who will govern the country tomorrow?” he asked. “The far-right and a few associates, or the democratic, progressive bloc? That’s the fundamental question.”

Potential alliances and France’s two-round voting system in national elections make the outcome of the vote highly uncertain.

Opposition parties on the left and right have been scrambling to form alliances and field candidates in the early legislative balloting.

While significant differences between parties remain on either side of the political spectrum, prominent figures calling for a united front appear to have one thing in common: They don’t want to cooperate with Macron.

Despite their divisions, left-wing parties agreed late Monday to form an alliance that includes the Greens, the Socialists, the Communists and the far-left France Unbowed.

Le Pen is working to consolidate power on the right in efforts to translate the European triumph into a national win and come closer to claiming power. Her party is expected to win the most French seats in the European Parliament, potentially as many as 30 of France’s 81.