Macron calls on moderate parties to unite to fight hard-Right

Emmanuel Macron called on France’s moderate parties to back him in the battle against the hard-Right on Wednesday as he faced an internal backlash over his decision to hold a snap election.

In a combative two-hour press conference, the French president urged the Socialists and the Greens, as well as the main-stream Republican conservatives, to form a “new project … a coalition to govern”.

Mr Macron’s appeal reflects the fact his Renaissance party alone appears highly unlikely to beat Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN), which is polling in first place according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The RN is expected to win 31 per cent of votes in the first round national vote on June 30, while Mr Macron would claim 18 per cent, the Elabe poll finds.

Emmanuel Macron and Gabriel Attal - 'Harmful' Macron clique is leading his party to ruin warn furious allies
Emmanuel Macron and Gabriel Attal face the prospect of the hard-Right National Rally winning a parliamentary majority on July 7 - Shutterstock /Abd Rabbo-Blondet-Niviere

Mr Macron appealed to “political leaders who do not recognise themselves in the extremist fever” to join his ticket.

France’s mainstream parties have worked together since the end of the Second World War to block the hard-Right from power, after the RN’s predecessor collaborated with the Nazis.

On Wednesday, the Republican party decided to remove its leader, Eric Ciotti, over his decision to break the so-called “cordon sanitaire” and seek an alliance with Le Pen.

Reports in the French media before Mr Macron’s speech revealed fierce splits within his camp over the decision to call an election, with some describing him as a “sorcerer’s apprentice” playing with the future of France.

“Macron is guilty of hubris because he has never previously experienced electoral failure. Hence his headlong leap forward. He’s in denial”, one MP cited by Le Parisien complained.

The MP went on to blast “certain people” close to the president whose influence had been “harmful”.

“These guys are in the process of wrecking everything we’ve built over the last seven years that will see 150 MPs fired and all to clarify what exactly?” another aide was cited as saying.

Mr Macron defended the decision in his press conference. “What would you have said … if I stood before you with 50 per cent of the French people voting for the extremes and exclaimed, “we’re not changing a thing, we’re carrying on’? You would have said, ‘this guy’s out of touch’,” he said.

“I fully take responsibility for starting this process of clarification,” he went on, adding that two-thirds of the French supported dissolving parliament. Those against it were members of “the political system” who wanted to keep their jobs, he asserted.

Gabriel Attal
Mr Macron said he was passing over running of the election campaign to his popular prime minister Gabriel Attal, pictured - Shutterstock

Edouard Philippe, Mr Macron’s former prime minister and a potential successor in the 2027 presidential election, appeared to suggest it would be better if Mr Macron kept out of the race altogether.

“I’m not sure it’s entirely healthy for the president of the republic to run a legislative campaign,” he said on BFM TV on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, Mr Macron insisted he was merely setting out a “line” and would pass over to his popular 35-year-old prime minister Gabriel Attal, who will lead the legislative campaign.

Resignation rumours

He ruled out debating against Ms Le Pen, whom he said dreamed of a “rematch” of the presidential elections she twice lost to him, and dismissed “rumours” he would resign if his party’s alliance lost as “absurd”.

“I hope that when the time comes, men and women of goodwill who will have been able to say no to the extremes will come together ... will put themselves in a position to build a shared, sincere project that is useful to the country,” he said.

The French had expressed “anger”, he said, but were aware that RN’s policies and those of the hard-Left were totally unfeasible.

Mr Macron also lashed out at conservative Republicans over Mr Ciotti’s attempt to form an alliance with the National Rally, calling it a “pact with the devil”.

The Right had “in a few hours turned its back on the legacy of General de Gaulle” as well as former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, he said.

The Republicans were in disarray on Wednesday as its politburo announced they had fired Mr Ciotti after an emergency meeting, only for him to announce minutes later that he was staying put and calling the committee’s decision “a flagrant violation of our statutes” that was illegal and void

As the row erupted, Mr Ciotti closed the party’s headquarters near the National Assembly due to “security fears”.