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Francois Hollande Alamy Stock Photo
Snap Election

Ex-president Hollande makes surprise comeback in French election as Left forms alliance

Francois Hollande left office in 2017 with record levels of unpopularity and is detested by parts of the radical left.

FORMER FRENCH SOCIALIST party president Francois Hollande is to stand again for parliament in legislative elections, the latest political twist after his successor Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly called snap polls.

Hollande, France’s president from 2012-2017, left office with record levels of unpopularity and is detested by parts of the radical left.

Macron’s dissolving of parliament after the victory of the French far right in European parliament elections has swiftly redrawn the lines of French politics.

A new left-wing alliance has emerged and the main right-wing party’s leader has announced he is prepared to back an alliance with the far right.

Holland’s decision comes as France today saw a quarter of a million people protested in France, according to police, against the prospect of the far-right coming to power.

a-protester-holds-an-anti-far-right-banner-showing-the-faces-of-french-presidents-and-the-word-honte-or-shame-during-a-rally-in-paris-saturday-june-15-2024-anti-racism-groups-joined-french-uni A protester holds an anti-far-right banner showing the faces of French Presidents and the word 'Honte' or 'Shame' during a rally in Paris today. Alamy Stock Photo / AP Photo/Michel Euler Alamy Stock Photo / AP Photo/Michel Euler / AP Photo/Michel Euler

Hollande said he would stand as an MP for the southwestern Correze department for the New Popular Front, a left-wing grouping formed for the elections that includes Socialists, hard-left, Greens and Communists.

“An exceptional decision for an exceptional situation,” Hollande told reporters in the department’s main town of Tulle, explaining his surprise comeback.

“I am not seeking anything for myself,” he insisted, after a flurry of recent media appearances sparked speculation he might be eyeing a return to the Elysee Palace itself. “I just want to be of service.”

Hollande has already backed the new broad left-wing alliance, saying that we “must all do everything to make sure the far right does not come to power in France”.

He is not the first president to run for legislative elections after leaving the Elysee Palace. In 1984, three years after his defeat against Francois Mitterrand in presidential elections, Valery Giscard d’Estaing was elected MP for the Puy-de-Dome department.

Officially, the Socialist Party reacted coolly to the move with the head of its election commission Pierre Jouvet simply saying that it “takes note” of the candidacy.

But one senior party figure, asking not to be named, said they were “devastated” by the news while admitting: “We said we wanted the broadest possible left wing.”

The elections, with a first round on June 30 and second on July 7, were called by Macron after the far right National Rally (RN) trounced his own centrist ruling party in this month’s European elections, recording more than double its vote.

‘It could happen’

The new left-wing coalition faced its first crisis meanwhile after prominent MPs including Alexis Corbiere, Raquel Garrido and Danielle Simmonet from the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party found they had not been put forward to stand again.

LFI figurehead Jean-Luc Melenchon retorted that such candidacies did not exist “for life” and the pool of figures had to be “enlarged”.

The nationwide protests Saturday were further spurred by the stunning move this week by the Republicans right-wing party leader Eric Ciotti to seek an election pact with the RN.

From Bayonne in the southwest to Nice in the southwest, from Vannes in the west to Reims in the east, demonstrators mobilised against the prospect of a victory for the far right and the possibility that RN party leader Jordan Bardella could become prime minister.

“I thought I would never see the far right come to power and now it could happen,” said Florence David, 60, who took part in the Paris protest.

“No need to vote RN to love France,” was among the slogans used.

© AFP 2024