Macron calls on French parties to form alliance against far-right National Rally

French president Emmanuel Macron speaks during his press conference (Reuters)
French president Emmanuel Macron speaks during his press conference (Reuters)

France’s president Emmanuel Macron has called on all parties to forge an alliance against the far-right National Rally (RN) party of Marine Le Pen and defended his shock move to call a snap election.

In a press conference that amounted to a campaign speech, Mr Macron insisted that dissolving the French parliament was “the only republican decision” available to him after National Rally trounced his centrist alliance in European parliament elections on Sunday.

“I do not want to give the keys to power to the far right in [the presidential election of] 2027, so I fully accept having triggered a movement to provide clarification,” he said and that he had called the election to hold back “extremes”. He said he believed the French people would vote to keep National Rally out.

Casting the election as “a test of truth between those who choose to strengthen their own hand and those who choose to strengthen the hand of France”, Mr Macron said he would not quit if his camp loses and he would not debate against Ms Le Pen.

“It’s about allowing political forces chosen by the French to be able to govern,” he said, adding that it’s “awkward to think it has to be the extreme right or political extremes. Or maybe you’ve got the spirit of defeat spread everywhere... Things are simple today: we have unnatural alliances at both extremes, who quite agree on nothing except the jobs to be shared.”

The press conference in Paris came a day after Eric Ciotti, the leader of France’s mainstream right Les Republicains, said he would back an alliance with Ms Le Pen’s RN – sparking a furious backlash within his own Republican party. His vice-president Florence Portelli told France Info TV: “I think there’s a chance he can be made to leave if he doesn’t go by himself, and I have no doubt it’ll happen.”

In a dig at apparent dig at Mr Ciotti on Wednesday, Mr Macron criticised those seeking to forge “unnatural alliances”, and claimed “the mask has come off”.

Marine Le Pen and protege Jordan Bardella secured around 30 per cent of the vote in France’s EU elections (AP)
Marine Le Pen and protege Jordan Bardella secured around 30 per cent of the vote in France’s EU elections (AP)

And in a sign of the political turmoil the snap election has caused, Mr Ciotti vowed on Wednesday to stay in his job, holing himself up in his office on Wednesday with the building locked. Senior figures from Les Republicains arrived – reportedly for a meeting about ousting Mr Ciotti – to find themselves unable to get in. Mr Ciotti posted on Twitter/X that he had closed the doors “after receiving threats” and that he had to “guarantee staff safety”.

“What’s more, there has never been any meeting planned at the HQ this afternoon,” he posted.

Warning that parties on France’s left and right are “building political entities, but by no means majorities to govern”, he questioned whether Mr Ciotti’s party, which has criticised public spending as too lax, would govern effectively with the far right, whose plans have been costed at €100bn a year, he said.

Appealing to voters, he said: “You’ve expressed anger, message received. But is an expression of anger the answer to your daily life? I say no. [National Rally] is a political project that won’t be able to respond to the insecurity you experience ... What’s the concrete answer? They don’t have one.”

Vowing to take a firmer hand in questions of immigration, security and justice, the president arguing that a far left would be too “lax”, while the extreme right would bulldoze France’s constitutional rule of law.

But despite rapidly forming a new alliance dubbed the Popular Front on Monday in a bid to shut out the far right, the previously fractured parties on France’s left have also vowed not to join forces with Mr Macron’s centrists.

In a joint statement on Monday night, signed by the Socialists, Ecologists, Communists and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s LFI, the new alliance urged citizens, influential labour unions and students to unite against Ms Le Pen and provide an alternative to Mr Macron.

Nevertheless, Mr Macron has insisted he is “out to win” the snap elections set to commence on 30 June, telling Le Figaro during a visit to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane – where hundreds were killed by the Nazis in 1944 – that Europe’s history of fascism should not be allowed to “recommence”.