Leftists seal deal for legislative elections in France, complicating Macron’s strategy | International

The French left, from the Eurosceptic populists of Jean-Luc Mélenchon to the pro-European Social Democrats of Raphaël Glucksmann, will go into early legislative elections with a common program that includes a commitment to Ukraine and lowering the retirement age. The agreement is bad news for Emmanuel Macron, who faces a very complicated campaign after the president surprisingly dissolved the National Assembly and brought the election forward following the victory of the far right in the European elections.

Macron hoped that divisions in the left and the irritation of many progressives with Mélenchon’s radicalism and individualism would lead them to include him in his candidacy for the legislative elections on June 30 and July 7. He has not achieved this.

The first polls suggest that the legislative election will be a duel between the extreme right wing of the National Rally, the party led by Marine Le Pen, and a coalition of radical, environmentalist and moderate leftists, which currently has no clear leader. The Macronists will be in third place and will no longer be the first bloc in the National Assembly.

Manuel Bompard (in the foreground), the national coordinator of La Francia Insumisa, during a press conference.
Manuel Bompard (in the foreground), the national coordinator of La Francia Insumisa, during a press conference.Mohamed Badra (EFE)

Ukraine and Gaza

The pact of the so-called “New Popular Front”, which harks back to the anti-fascism of the 1930s, is made up of 150 measures that, according to its signatories, represent a “complete break with Macron’s policy”. They promise to repeal the president’s main reforms, from pensions to unemployment insurance as well as an increase in the minimum wage.

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The program includes demands that Glucksmann and the Socialists were keen on. Among them, the delivery of “necessary weapons” to Ukraine. Also a commitment to “really fight against anti-Semitism”, a sensitive point for the liberal left, who are very critical of Mélenchon’s vague statements on the issue.

The moderates managed to call the Hamas attack against Israel on October 7 a “terrorist massacre”. Some melanchonistas opposed the use of the adjective “terrorist” at the time of the events. The signatories promote the “immediate” recognition of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and a ban on the supply of weapons to this country.

The essence of the negotiations was the distribution of seats among the four parties, so that each district has a single candidate. This is a formula to avoid scattering of votes and unite them in one name, giving them a chance to qualify for the second round and be elected.

The Common Program places Mélenchon’s La Francia Insumisa (LFI) in a prominent position in the “new popular front”, since it would be by far the most favored party in the distribution of candidates, 229 out of 577. They are 100 less than they had in the legislative elections of 2022. The Socialist Party and Plaza Pública, Glucksmann’s formation, total 175, a hundred more than two years ago. The environmentalists assume 92 and the Communists 50.

The leaders of the LFI, socialists, environmentalists and communists, presented the programme at a press conference from which, significantly, Mélenchon and Glucksmann were absent. Both respectively symbolize the sovereignist, Eurosceptic, anti-capitalist and anti-Atlantic wing and the pro-European wing, friendly to NATO and defender of military aid to Ukraine and a social market economy.

“On June 30 and July 7 we can change lives,” declared Mélenchon’s right-hand man, Manuel Bompard. “Change lives” was a slogan from the shared program of the Socialists and Communists that foreshadowed François Mitterrand’s rise to power nine years later, in 1972. “They said we were inconsistent,” declared Olivier Faure, the PS’s secretary general, “but when the essential thing is at stake, we are showing that we are always there.” “In elections either the extreme right wins or we win,” said Marine Tondelier, the leader of the environmentalists.

All have accused Macron of being directly responsible for the extreme right being “at the doorstep of power”. Jordan Bardella, Le Pen’s right-hand man and prime ministerial candidate for the RN, took up the challenge and named the “new popular front” as his “main opponent”.

The program bears some of the hallmarks of the left. Lowering the retirement age from the current 64 years to 60 years and repealing Macron’s controversial pension reform. Or raising the minimum wage from the current 1,398 to 1,600 euros a month, or increasing salaries at the rate of inflation and blocking prices for essential products. In the first 100 days of government, the left proposes to “abolish privileges” BillionairesAlong with a series of fiscal measures such as the complete reinstatement of wealth tax.

However, there is no mention in the document of the future of NATO or nuclear energy – points that have divided left-wing parties.

This Friday in Paris, leaders of left-wing parties are taking part in a so-called new Popular Front.
This Friday in Paris, leaders of left-wing parties are taking part in a so-called new Popular Front.Stephen Mahe (Reuters)

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Macronist Bruno Le Maire, described the program of the left as “absolute delirium”, and assured that it is “a guarantee of mass unemployment and exit from the EU.” The Macronist party has estimated the cost of the financial measures considered in the program at 287 billion euros.

In an interview with the France Inter radio network, MEP Glucksmann, whose list in the European elections overtook the Mélenchonistas, justified his support for the agreement due to the need to avoid a far-right majority this Friday. “It is our historic responsibility,” he summarized. Former President François Hollande has also approved of the agreement, which could be a guarantee of moderation for center-left voters.

There is currently no consensus on who will be prime minister if the Left wins. The idea of ​​the signatories is that the party that wins the largest number of representatives in the election will be able to propose a name.

Glucksmann has rejected Mélenchon and proposed Laurent Berger, the former secretary general of the moderate CFDT union and head of the French Social Democracy. Another name that sounds strong is François Ruffin, a popular LFI deputy, although a critic of Mélenchon.

Berger has told those around him that he has little desire to enter politics, but that he could take that step if forced. A year ago, in the midst of protests against pension reform, he already said in an interview with EL PAIS: “If we had a situation of total democratic madness and, at a certain moment, it was necessary to attend to reflection, without a doubt it would be there. “I’m not going to desert.”

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