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French conservative leader calls for alliance with far right

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The leader of France’s mainstream conservative party on Tuesday called for an alliance with the far right in upcoming snap elections, as his party faces a tough battle against the far right. President Emmanuel Macron’s decision Motions to dissolve the lower house of parliament continue to run through French politics.

The announcement by Republican leader Eric Ciotti, who was immediately met with strong opposition from his party colleagues, was a historic break from the party’s long-standing line and its relationship with former President Charles de Gaulle.

Previously, no leader of a mainstream French political party had accepted Marine Le Pen’s National Rallyor its predecessor National FrontBut across Europe, What has long been seen as an obstacle to the extreme nationalist right is disappearing As political parties adjust their positions and a wider consensus emerges that large-scale illegal immigration across EU borders must be curbed.

Elections for France’s lower house of parliament and the more powerful National Assembly are scheduled for June 30 and July 7. Macron announced the results last week. After his party’s defeat in the European electionsreceived only 14.6% of the vote nationwide, while the National Rally led by Marine Le Pen’s disciples received about 31.4%. Jordan BadellaRepublicans performed even worse, with just 7.25% support.

Bardella, 28, who has become a welcome new face in French politics in the European elections, welcomed Sciotti’s announcement and describing it as “putting the interests of the French people above those of our party”.

In an interview with TF1 television on Tuesday, Sciotti said his party was “too weak” to survive on its own and needed to reach an agreement with the National Rally to retain a significant number of lawmakers in the House of Representatives. The Republicans have been the dominant force in French politics under the presidencies of Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, but they only have 61 members in the 577-seat National Assembly, and that number is likely to decline further.

If the deal is formalized — with the National Rally agreeing not to run against the Republicans for candidates in certain regions — it would be the first time France’s center-right conservatives have joined forces with the far right. That in turn would make it harder for Macron to form any kind of coalition after the election, preventing Le Pen’s party from governing.

“We need a coalition, but at the same time we need to keep our own position,” Mr. Jyoti said. Later, when asked by reporters at party headquarters what had happened to the bulwark that France’s traditional parties usually built around the far right, he demurred, saying the term “no longer fits” and “does not fit the French situation at all.”

“The French don’t see the barrier,” he said, referring to the barrier against the far right sometimes called “the dam.” “They see a loss of purchasing power, insecurity, a wave of immigration, and they want answers. For seven years, Mr Macron has been unable to provide concrete answers, only talk, so today I think we need a change of approach.”

Many senior conservative politicians, who had warned against an alliance with the far right, immediately said it was unacceptable and called for Mr. Jyoti to resign.

Gerard Larcher, president of the French Senate and leader of the influential Republican Party Mr. Ciotti said “It is no longer possible to lead our movement,” said Valerie Pécresse, head of the Paris region. Said Mr. Jyoti had “sold his soul.” Olivier Malex, Republican member of the House of Representatives Said Mr. Ciotti must resign.

He has refused to do so, and it is unclear how many Republican lawmakers might follow his lead and agree to work with the national rally.

But the stunning announcement could foreshadow a split within the Republicans — the latest sign that Marine Le Pen’s party is steadily gaining ground, leaving the mainstream parties that have dominated postwar French politics scrambling for position.

The Republicans, a party that has changed its name several times, traces its roots to the right-wing party founded by Charles de Gaulle after World War II. For years, an alliance with the far right was seen as a historical legacy. After all, de Gaulle had fought and defeated the Vichy government that ruled France from 1940 to 1944 in collaboration with the Nazis.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin quit the Republicans in 2017 to join Macron’s camp. explain Jyoti “signed the Munich Agreement and brought disgrace upon the de Gaulle family,” referring to the 1938 Munich Agreement that ceded parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler and led British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to declare “peace for our time.” A year later, World War II broke out.

“This is shameful. French people, wake up!” Darmanin added.

The Republicans have moved their party line increasingly to the right over the past few years, particularly on crime and immigration, and have split between those who want to align with Macron’s centrist party and those who want to move further to the right.

Mr. Giotti is an MP for Nice, where the far right is doing exceptionally well. Last week, the National Rally came out on top in the European elections with more than 30 percent of the vote, while the Republicans trailed in sixth place.

In a stream of comments on social media, Sciotti’s party colleagues quickly sought to characterize his statement as a personal rather than an official position.

“Eric Ciotti represents only himself.” Jean-François Copé says“He must resign immediately as chairman of the Republican Party. His praise for the far right is unacceptable and goes against all the values ​​we stand for.”

ask Radio France Info As for what the next steps will be, party vice chair Florence Mosalini-Portelli didn’t mince words.

“We fired him,” she said of Mr. Sciotti.

It may sound simple, but Sciotti’s decision to open the door to the far right was not a purely personal whim. It reflects important currents within his party and a growing acceptance that the National Rally might one day legitimately run France.

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