July 16, 2024

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France’s new leftwing bloc begins to crack ahead of snap elections

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France’s new leftwing unity pact is showing signs of cracking, barely two days after it was formed in a move which threatened to eclipse the centrist alliance of Emmanuel Macron in forthcoming snap elections.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon launched an overnight purge of moderates in his party who had advocated for unity, prompting a furious backlash from other leftwing leaders. Olivier Faure, the socialist chief, called it “scandalous”.

The creation of NPF could seriously harm the prospects of pro-Macron candidates by making it much harder for them to qualify for the second round run-off on July 7. The first round takes place on June 30.

The possibility of a far-right government with the left as the largest opposition force — both of which have massive unfunded spending plans — has rattled financial markets, prompting a sell-off of French debt and equities this week.

Some 75,000 people took part in a demonstration in Paris on Saturday afternoon against the far-right, the police said. The CGT union said 250,000 had taken part in the capital, and 640,000 in protests nationwide.

The NPF was only agreed on Thursday after intense negotiations between four leftwing parties. The parties are deeply divided on the economy, EU policy and Ukraine but have buried their differences to maximise their chances against Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National.

But Mélenchon’s purge has put the NPF under strain. The head of France Insoumise (France Unbowed) removed several colleagues who had previously criticised his extreme positions from the LFI list of election candidates. He included in the list Adrien Quatennens, a protégé and controversial LFI MP who has been accused by his wife of domestic violence.

The move by Mélenchon, a deeply polarising politician, prompted a furious reaction from the purged members and their…

2024-06-15 12:50:29

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