French Republicans get rid of their leader due to the far-right coalition agreement

Image source, Reuters/Sarah Messonnier

Comment on the photo, Eric Ciotti said his party needs an alliance “while preserving ourselves.”

  • author, Paul Kirby
  • Role, BBC News

The French Republican Party abandoned its leader, Eric Cioti, after he called for a political alliance with the far-right National Rally party in early elections at the end of this month.

The political leaders of the right-wing party made the decision little more than 24 hours after Ciotti’s plan caused an uproar among Republican politicians.

The apparent collapse at the heart of France’s mainstream conservative party comes on the heels of the National Rally’s landslide victory in Sunday’s European elections – and President Emmanuel Macron’s quick decision to call national elections.

Cioti hit back at his colleagues, accusing them of a “flagrant violation” of party rules, and insisted he was not going anywhere.

Ciotti was elected party leader in December 2022, and has always been seen as more hawkish than most prominent Republicans.

But when he appeared on television on Tuesday to announce that Republicans “need an alliance with the RNC… an alliance with the NRA.” [National Rally] Senior figures in the party said that he spoke only for himself when he proposed the agreement.

National Rally leader Jordan Bardella subsequently confirmed that there was an agreement and that his party would support “dozens” of Republican candidates.

Macron intervened on Wednesday and accused Ciotti of turning his back on a party that owed its heritage to former presidents Charles de Gaulle, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Republicans have struggled at the polls in recent years, unable to counter the rise of Macron’s centrist party, now called Ennahda, or the National Rally. In Sunday’s elections, they received only 7.25%.

Although an estimated half of the popular base of Republicans supports an alliance with the National Rally Party, the vast majority of party leaders have categorically rejected it.

In an apparent attempt to stop his dismissal at an emergency meeting of party leaders on Wednesday, Ciotti ordered the doors of the party headquarters in Paris to be closed, citing security risks.

He later confirmed that “none of the decisions taken at this meeting carry any legal repercussions. They may have criminal repercussions.” He later told French television that “about 80” candidates would run for the Republicans with the support of the National Rally party.

Republicans have now named their main candidate in Sunday’s election, François-Xavier Bellamy, as interim leader. He told reporters, “The forces of chaos threaten our country today… We have a line in front of us that we must stand on.”

Hours earlier, Macron defended his sudden decision to dissolve parliament and call elections, urging French voters to come together and “say no to extremism.”

Comment on the photo, Macron said he would not participate in the campaign, even though his speech was largely political

He said a wide range of political groups “that cannot sympathize with this extremist fever” should unite against it.

His statements did not only reflect Mr. Cioti’s overtures to the leaders of the National Rally party, Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella.

He was also responding to the mainstream centre-left’s decision to agree to a pact with the far left, which he accused of adopting anti-Semitic and anti-parliamentary positions.

On Sunday, Raphael Glucksmann led the center-left to third place with a campaign that attracted voters alienated by France’s most extreme party, which had not yielded to Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Macron indicated that the masks of the two main powers had slipped and that the battle for values ​​had come out into the light.

Mélenchon accused the president of diving into a strategy of chaos and drowning in a torrent of insults toward “those who do not share his opinion.”

Macron was widely criticized for his seemingly spontaneous decision to call elections, an hour after his party received less than 15% of the vote, while the National Rally achieved nearly 31.5% in the European vote.

Two years into his second term as president, his party is without a majority in the French National Assembly, so all legislation requires support from political allies.

Macron said the system had become dysfunctional, leaving the government unable to act.

In response to a journalist’s question whether he had handed over the keys of France to the far right, Macron said that doing nothing is not an option, and that asking people to make decisions is a principle of democracy.

He said voters who supported the National Rally on Sunday expressed their anger, adding: “The message has been received.”

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