Macron weakened at home and abroad as an early French election gives the far right momentum | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Macron weakened at home and abroad as an early French election gives the far right momentum

FILE - Jordan Bardella, president of the far-right National Front party, arrives at the Eurosatory Defense and security exhibition, Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in Villepinte, north of Paris. The perspective of a defeat in parliamentary elections mean he may have to share power with a prime minister from rival political party — that could possibly be far-right National Rally's president Jordan Bardella. Macron defeated twice the National Rally's leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential election, both in 2017 and 2022.( AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
Original Publication Date June 28, 2024 - 9:16 AM

PARIS (AP) — President Emmanuel Macron once appeared as a bold, young leader offering to revive France through radical pro-business, pro-European policies, leaving voters with “no reason anymore” to vote for the extremes.

Seven years after he was first elected, his call for an early election weakens him at home and abroad, while the far right appears to be propelling to the verge of power. Macron, who has a presidential mandate until 2027, has said he won't step down before the end of his term.

Yet the prospect of a defeat in parliamentary elections means he may have to share power with a prime minister from a rival political party, possibly far-right National Rally's president Jordan Bardella.

Macron announced the surprise vote earlier in June, after his centrist alliance suffered a crushing defeat in European Union elections.

He argued his alliance has not held a parliamentary majority since 2022, even while having the most seats. The situation forced him into political maneuvering to pass bills.

Voters in the two-round ballot on Sunday and July 7 are to choose who they'll send to the National Assembly, leading to the formation of a new government.

Macron defeated National Rally leader Marine Le Pen twice in presidential elections, in 2017 and 2022.

Moments after his first victory, then age 39, he slowly walked to the stage in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris to the sound of the European anthem, “Ode to Joy.” There he declared of Le Pen's voters: “I will do everything … so that they don’t have any reason anymore to vote for the extremes.”

Macron’s centrist political startup that he promoted then as “neither right- nor left-wing” crushed traditional rivals, the Socialist Party and the conservative Republicans.

In 2022, as he defeated Le Pen again but with a smaller margin, Macron acknowledged French people voted “not to support my ideas, but rather to block those of the far right.”

Now, his centrist alliance’s existence is under threat. Polls show top contenders in the parliamentary race are mostly candidates from the far right and the broad left-wing coalition, the New Popular Front.

Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently said Macron “has killed the presidential majority.”

Early Friday, following an EU summit in Brussels, Macron justified his decision to dissolve the National Assembly.

“It was indispensable to ask (voters) for a clarification. And I don’t think we can pursue ambitious policies without involving the people,” he said.

Asked about a National Rally lawmaker who argued that dual nationals such as a French-Moroccan former minister shouldn’t be members of the government, Macron answered: “It says a lot about what’s at stake."

He recalled France’s ideals of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”

“Overt racism or antisemitism says something about a profound betrayal of what France is, of its values, of what our Republic is. And that’s something we have to fight with force, and we have to be outraged at," Macron said. "Because it’s not about politics, it’s not just about a vote. It’s about the very possibility of living together.”

“I’ll never give up" on fighting the far right "whatever is happening,” Macron said.

Asked whether he discussed French elections with Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Brussels that “it would be very strange if I wouldn’t speak to my friend Emmanuel Macron about it. That’s what we do."

Scholz, who belongs to the center-left Social Democrats, added: "Of course I hope that, for example, parties that are politically closer to me do better than others. … We shouldn’t anticipate the result.”

Macron argued in a news conference earlier this month that his economic achievements speak for themselves. Unemployment has fallen from over 10% to 7.5% and France has been ranked the most attractive European country for foreign investment in recent years.

Yet his time in office has been marred by major turbulence, from the yellow vest protests against perceived social and economic injustice to the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the 2023 riots triggered by the deadly police shooting of a teen.

Whatever the outcome, Macron's move to call snap elections already leaves France weakened on the European stage, according to Lisa Thomas-Darbois, deputy director of France studies at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne think tank.

It "has provoked a certain amount of fear on the part of our European and international partners,” she said. “We can see that, just in terms of our interest rates on the financial markets, our credibility is somewhat diminished.”

“Is it because we’re potentially facing a political deadlock for a year? Or is it because we potentially could have the National Rally in power? We can’t really say at this stage," she said. “What is certain is that the National Rally’s stance is not likely to be reassuring in terms of France’s image in the years to come."

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AP writers Ella Joyner in Brussels and Masha Macpherson in Paris contributed to this story.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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