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Over 200 Candidates Withdraw in France to Form Republican Front Against Far-Right

Paris, July 03, 2024, The Europe Today: In a strategic move to counter the rise of the far-right National Rally (RN) party, over 200 candidates withdrew from the upcoming second round of voting for the national parliament. These candidates, primarily from President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party and the broad left-wing NFP grouping, aim to form a “republican front” against RN.

The RN, led by Marine Le Pen, secured approximately 33% of the vote in the first round last Sunday. In response, around 210 pro-Macron and left-wing candidates withdrew by Tuesday evening, leaving the remaining candidates to face off in the second round for the 577-seat parliament.

Macron’s camp is now cooperating with the NFP, hoping that tactical voting will prevent the RN and its aligned candidates from winning the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority. This collaboration involves cross-party calls for voters to support the candidate most likely to defeat their local RN rival.

This snap election follows Macron’s poor performance in the European elections last month, where the RN gained 31.4% of the vote compared to 14.6% for Macron’s Ensemble. Analysts believe the decision to call an early election may have been an attempt to test the public or the RN’s ability to govern, but it appears to have backfired.

In the first round, only 76 lawmakers, mainly from the far-right and left, were elected outright. The remaining 501 seats will be determined in run-offs, with two, three, or even four candidates in some instances. Under France’s two-round voting system, candidates with more than 12.5% of the vote can compete in the second round, with the seat going to the candidate with the most votes, regardless of whether they achieve an absolute majority.

Marine Le Pen has called on voters to grant the RN an absolute majority in parliament, which would position her protege, Jordan Bardella, as prime minister. Such an outcome would lead to a period of “cohabitation” between Bardella’s RN-led government and Macron, who has vowed to complete his term until 2027.

The concept of a “republican front” is not new in French politics, having successfully thwarted Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, in the 2002 presidential contest. The same tactic has been employed in subsequent elections to prevent far-right victories.

The potential outcomes include an RN-led government, a hung parliament leading to political paralysis, or a continuation of Macron’s presidency with a minority or coalition government. The final results will depend on the effectiveness of the republican front and voter turnout in the second round.