France’s Republicans leader wants to form ‘alliance’ with Le Pen’s NR

Republicans party chairman Eric Ciotti urges country-wide alliance with Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in upcoming polls.

Eric Ciotti
Eric Ciotti says parties should 'stop making up imagined opposition' [File: Francois Mori/AP Photo]

France’s conservative Republicans party chairman Eric Ciotti has called for a country-wide alliance between his party’s candidates and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) in forthcoming parliamentary elections.

“We say the same things so let’s stop making up imagined opposition”, Ciotti told TF1 television on Tuesday.

The announcement is the first time in modern French political history that a leader of a traditional party has backed an alliance with the far-right National Rally (RN).

President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called the elections for June 30, with a second round on July 7, in a major gamble after the RN scored more than double the number of votes of his centrist alliance in the EU elections.

Ciotti spoke to RN party leaders Le Pen and Jordan Bardella before announcing the move, which he said was aimed at ensuring the Republicans (LR) can secure enough seats to still form a parliamentary group.

“We need some sort of alliance and that’s what I am offering”, Ciotti said. He added: “This is what the vast majority of voters wants.”

Le Pen praised “the courageous choice” and “sense of responsibility” of Ciotti, saying she hoped that a significant number of LR figures would follow him.

The call from Ciotti, who hails from the more conservative branch of LR, may drive a wedge through the party. More centrist members of the party have already said they would not countenance such a move.

Olivier Marleix, LR’s chief in the lower house of parliament, said he would not support “any arrangement” with a far-right movement.

Marleix demanded Ciotti’s resignation.

National Rally is widely expected to emerge as the strongest force after snap elections starting in three weeks, although the party may fall short of an absolute majority.

Macron’s office delayed until Wednesday a major news conference initially slated for Tuesday afternoon, while insisting that the nationwide vote would put a choice before the French people of “Republican forces on one side and extremist forces on the other”.

Macron told Figaro Magazine he ruled out resigning, “whatever the result” of snap elections.

Macron scoffed at a question about whether he was “crazy” to dissolve parliament and call for elections at such short notice.

“I am only thinking of France. It was the right decision, in the interest of the country,” he said, adding that he was prepared to debate head-to-head with Le Pen.

Source: News Agencies