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Demonstrators gather outside the Place de la Republique following the announcement of the dissolution of the National Assembly. Alamy Stock Photo

French left-wing parties announce 'Popular Front' electoral pact ahead of snap elections

The elections, called as a result of the victory for the far-right in European elections.

LEFT-WING PARTIES in France have announced an electoral pact to challenge the far-right in advance of the snap elections called by President Emmanuel Macron.

The country’s four largest left-wing parties – La France Insoumise (France Unbowed – LFI), the Socialist Party, the Greens, and the Communist Party of France (PCF), along with their respective allies – have agreed a pact to run a single list of candidates for the upcoming National Assembly elections, with the first divvying up of constituencies already taking place.

On Tuesday, the leaders of the four main parties announced what they called a new Popular Front, in reference to a similar pact between socialists and communists which led to the election of socialist Léon Blum in 1936.

Overcoming tensions

The last time a left-wing pact was announced was in the lead-up to the National Assembly elections in 2022. The New Ecological and Social People’s Union – NUPES – led to the election of 149 candidates and the denial of Macron’s Renaissance party an outright majority in the assembly.

However, the pact relied on the glossing over of political issues that became points of contention once those elected actually took their seats, such as over the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

The failure by the group to agree on a single candidate in the 2022 presidential elections also faced criticism. LFI candidate Jean Luc Mélenchon lost to National Rally leader Marine Le Pen – who went on to contest the election against Emmanuel Macron -  by only 0.2% of the vote. The other members’ candidates took 8.66% collectively.

The group was functionally defunct following the suspension of the Socialist Party in October 2023, after they voted to place a moratorium on their involvement in the alliance due to LFI’s refusal to declare Hamas a terrorist organisation.

However, after the strong result for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in the European Parliament elections, where they took almost 32% of the vote, the parties have reconstituted NUPES as the Popular Front.

However, despite the new commitments to unity, tensions still persist, especially between the far-left LFI and the more conservative PCF.

CPF National Secretary Fabien Roussel and LFI founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon have clashed repeatedly, most recently on the PCF’s backing of the police response to demonstrations over the shooting of teenager Nahel M. last year.

Students and unions take to the streets

Despite these tensions, the parties have committed to a single list of candidates, and have called on students and trade unions to “join the processions and demonstrate widely” ahead of the first round of elections in June.

On 10 June, as a result of the far-right’s success, thousands of left-wing activists gathered to demonstrate in cities across France. Over 3,000 gathered at the Place de la République in Paris, and demonstrators and police clashed in Bordeaux.

France’s largest trade unions, the CFDT and CGT – who represent over 1.5 million French workers – have called for national demonstrations ahead of the elections, with the CGT officially endorsing the Popular Front pact.

“A pact with the devil”

President Macron called the snap election following the victory of the far-right National Rally party in the European Parliament elections. His decision to call an election from a position of weakness has surprised onlookers.

One of the reasons he has given has been to prevent a far-right victory in the 2027 presidential election.

“I do not want to give the keys to power to the far right in 2027,” he said.

When asked about his hopes for the election, President Macron called for the backing of those “able to say no to extremes”, in reference to both the right- and left-wing pacts that have formed since the announcement of elections.

In response to the pact formed by the left, the leader of the conservative Les Républicains party, Eric Ciotti announced a desire to form a similar agreement with Le Pen’s National Rally, which Macron described as a “pact with the devil”.

However, the move has caused a revolt in the party, with Ciotti locking party members out of the party headquarters in Paris, citing death threats and fears for staff safety.

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