France’s Socialist Party on Friday sealed a coalition deal with the hard-left La France Insoumise (LFI) party to run together in June’s parliamentary elections to try to deprive newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron of a majority.
“From now on, we are going to campaign together,” said Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure.
The coalition pact, which the French Greens and Communists approved earlier this week, will be the first time the broader left wing of French politics has united in 20 years – but with the eurosceptic LFI in the driving seat this time around.
Parties on both the left and right wings of France’s political spectrum are eyeing alliances to try to beat President Macron’s party – which has been renamed Renaissance – in the June 12 and June 19 votes for the lower house of France’s parliament.
Mr Macron won a second presidential mandate last month, but he will need a majority in parliament if he is to push through policies including raising the retirement age to 65 from 62 currently, opposed by both the left and right.
The left-wing bloc’s alliance has taken shape under the leadership of LFI’s firebrand chief Jean-Luc Melenchon, who narrowly missed out on making it to the final round of the French presidential election run-off vote last month.
Mr Melenchon came third with around 22 percent of votes in the first round of the election, just behind far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
Pledging to “disobey EU laws”, the newly forged left-wing alliance will be the second eurosceptic bloc Mr Macron will have to fight in the June election, prompting concerns for Brussels.
Reuters’ reporter Michel Rose warned: “Winning next month’s legislative election may be a long shot for France’s new hard-left alliance, but the fact Macron now faces two eurosceptic opposition blocs and cannot run again in 2027 should be cause for concern in Brussels. “
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In the document sealing their alliance, the Socialists said that the concept of “disobedience” to EU rules reflected the “different history” between them and Mr Melenchon’s party, and that they preferred to say they could “temporarily contravene” EU legislation.
But they add their joint goal is to “put an end to the EU’s free-market and productivist course” and that it could be done by creating “tension” with Brussels.
When asked how they would manage to make Brussels swallow the pill, members of Mr Melenchon’s party said the sheer size of France’s economy within the bloc meant the EU would have no choice but to agree – unlike the situation faced by the Greek government of hard- left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that lost a stand-off with the EU during the debt crisis.
Adrien Quatennens, a senior member of Melenchon’s party, told Franceinfo radio: “France is influential in Europe.
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“It’s 18 percent of the European economy. It’s not the situation of the Greece of Tsipras that negotiated with 2 percent of the European economy.”
Even if the alliance fails to win power in the June 12-19 parliamentary election, the new alignment on the left and the fact Mr Macron is constitutionally barred from running for a third mandate in 2027 and has no obvious successor, increases the prospect of one of the two eurosceptic blocs winning power in the future.
In a bid to fight off his rivals, President Macron’s LREM party also formed a coalition with two other centrist parties for the June parliament elections, LREM member and parliament chairman Richard Ferrand said ahead of a conference with the two parties.
LREM will coordinate which candidates it presents with the centrist Modem party, which supported Mr Macron in the 2017 elections, and with the new Horizons party set up by Macron’s former prime minister Edouard Philippe.