In round one of the parliamentary elections in France, the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) and its allies have emerged strongest with 33 per cent of votes. Ahead of the second round of voting on Sunday, the leftist alliance Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP), which came second, and the Macron camp in third place have already withdrawn candidates to increase each other's chances against the RN.

Democratic emergency

Resistance is forming against the lurch to the right, but the outcome is still uncertain, fears La Repubblica:

“The democratic emergency is spreading directly from Europe to France. The victory of the far-right party of Marine Le Pen in the first round of the parliamentary elections has forced the left and Macron's centrists to call for a 'republican front' of resistance. ... The aim is to prevent the anti-EU, pro-Putin sovereigntists from winning an absolute majority in the second round. It is hard to say whether the plan will work. Early indications suggest that as a bloc the centre-leftist alliance would win a total of fifty percent of the votes. But the mechanisms of the snap election make it hard to be certain.”

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A political and moral dilemma

France is in a bind, Le Figaro laments:

“In a two-round election, the die is never cast on the evening of the first vote. A lot can still happen and the phase between the two rounds will be decisive. Nevertheless, it certainly looks like the foundations have been laid: polarisation, as evidenced by the dizzying escalation in the vendetta between the RN and the LFI [La France insoumise of the left-wing NFP alliance] or their confrontation in a three-way run-off, is carving out a radically new political landscape. It is plunging public officials, but also voters, into the torment of a political and moral dilemma. ... It is a tragedy in the truest sense of the word, in which fate offers only bad solutions.”

WORLD BRIEFING: July 7, 2024
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WORLD BRIEFING: July 7, 2024

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Join forces to beat the far right

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El País calls for a broad coalition against the RN:

“The RN's victory confronts the parties of the so-called 'republican arc' with their responsibilities. Either they join forces or they risk opening the way for a far-right government. ... Fortunately, they seem to want to bridge all differences. President Emmanuel Macron has called for a 'broad, clearly democratic and republican union'. ... The Socialist Party has promised to bring together the anti-Le Pen votes. ... Mélenchon and other parties in the coalition have made similar statements. ... The high stakes here require centrists and moderate conservatives to set aside their differences and support whoever can beat the far right, no matter where they come from.”

Macron's greatest defeat

For the Spectator, it's all over for Macron:

“Not simply because he has lost his reckless dissolution bet, but with it a whole political career. He came to the presidency in 2017 alone and he will leave it alone. The party he hastily, and brilliantly, rustled together has exploded. The arrogance and disdain for his citizens from bottom to top has finally got its comeuppance. In claiming back in 2017 to rid France of the reasons for voting for the 'far right' he ended up bolstering them and those of a radical left to boot.”

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Parallels with the British crisis

Le Monde sees parallels with the UK and the Brexit vote:

“Hostility towards immigration, which was perceived as being encouraged by EU membership, was one of the most powerful factors behind the British vote, as was the sense of neglect associated with the dismantling of the state and the increasingly precarious working conditions. ... It's as if the last eight years in the UK have foreshadowed, albeit in a much milder form, what awaits the French after 7 July: a fractured country on the verge of a nervous breakdown, with a tarnished international reputation, facing a toxic showdown with the EU, a dangerous instrumentalisation of immigration and broken promises that fuel anger.”

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