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French conservatives move toward far-right alliance

June 11, 2024

The leader of France's Republicans party has said he would be open to an alliance with Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally in snap French elections. Such an alliance would break a decades-old taboo.

Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella at an RN EU election night event
Previously unthinkable: after decades of being labeled pariahs, Marine Le Pen and the RN may finally become part of the French political establishmentImage: Andre Pain/EPA

Eric Ciotti, the head of the conservative French political party Les Republicans (LR), astounded political observers Tuesday by suggesting it was time to drop the longstanding taboo against working with the country's far-right National Rally (NR) party in hopes of taking power in snap elections called by centrist President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of Sunday's European parliamentary elections.

Speaking on TF1 TV, Ciotti said: "We say the same things, so let's stop making up imagined opposition. This is what the vast majority of our voters want. They're telling us, 'reach a deal."

In response, several of Ciotti's fellow party members spoke out against allowing former NR President Marine Le Pen anywhere near the levers of power.

"It's unthinkable for me (and many LR MPs) that there could be the slightest agreement, the slightest alliance, even local, or personal, with the RN," LR parliamentarian Philippe Gosselin told Reuters news agency.

Jordan Bardella, president of the NR, later told France 2 television that his party will support "several dozen" of current Republican MPs and its candidates in the election.

 "I confirm there will be an accord between the National Rally and the Republicans," he told France 2, according to AFP news agency. 

LR boss Eric Ciotti speaks to reporters
LR boss Eric Ciotti says voters want an alliance with the far-right, party members, however, don'tImage: Quentin Veuillet/NurPhoto/picture alliance

French political alliances: everyone's looking for new partners

Although the RN is expected to perform well in the upcoming June 30 and July 7 elections, polls show it is highly unlikely that it can win enough votes to rule on its own.

Talks between various groups both on the left and the right of the political spectrum have been ongoing since Macron dissolved parliament.

On Tuesday, Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal of Eric Zemmour's smaller far-right Reconquest party, said talks between her and her aunt's parties had failed.

The hard-right anti-immigrant RN welcomed Ciotti's overture.

 The LR itself has struggled to define itself after slowly shedding the glory of its Gaullist past, first with the downfall of Nicolas Sarkozy and then a centrist defection led by Macron.

Right-wing alliance in France: DW's Sonia Phalnikar

js/wmr (AFP, AP)