French Far-Right Edges Toward Coalition Against Macron

(Bloomberg) -- French far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party and lawmaker Marion Marechal are in discussions over the possibility of joining forces to take on French President Emmanuel Macron in upcoming legislative elections.

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Aligning their movements, which opposed each other in European elections, would rekindle political ties two years after Marechal turned her back on her aunt.

Le Pen said she’s ready to build a coalition that could also extend to the conservative Republicains to gain power in the French parliament. Speaking in an interview on TF1 on Monday, she also confirmed National Rally President Jordan Bardella is the party’s choice to become prime minister.

The National Rally dealt Macron a severe blow in European Parliament elections on Sunday, winning 31.4% of the vote, compared with less than 15% for his group. Combined with the 5.5% garnered by Marechal’s party, that took the far-right score to about 37%.

The president responded to the defeat by dissolving the National Assembly and announcing a legislative ballot on June 30, with a second round on July 7. He said he had heard people’s concerns and was confident the French people would “make the most just decision for itself and for future generations.”

A poll of first-round voting intentions by Harris Interactive for Challenges, M6 and RTL published Monday puts the National Rally on 34%, with Macron’s group trailing on 19%. The results are based on a survey of 2,744 adults and suggest Le Pen’s would become the biggest party in the National Assembly.

“During the campaign, Marion Marechal showed a constructive attitude,” Bardella said Monday following talks between the two parties. “I wanted to talk to her about the possibility of building a wider coalition, a national union as I call it, to beat Macron.”

Bardella all but ruled out campaigning with Eric Zemmour, a more hardline rival and former TV pundit, who teamed up with Marechal in the run-up to the last presidential election in 2022. Emerging from the meeting, Marechal said she will discuss with Zemmour the conditions for cooperation laid out by the National Rally.

“I have a choice to make on whether to insert my ideas into the National Rally or go it alone,” she said. “I want to find a way to combine and return to Jordan Bardella and Marine Le Pen.”

During the 2022 election campaign Marechal said that Le Pen had fallen into a strategy of opposing elites against the people to Macron’s benefit, while Zemmour had brought together French people from all backgrounds and social status. She also backed his view that the main battle is one of civilization, meaning the “migratory, cultural and demographic question.”

Macron’s group currently has the most seats in the lower house of parliament, though is short of an absolute majority. The National Rally is the biggest opposition party, with 89 lawmakers, while Zemmour’s Reconquete! party has none.

The Republicains won’t participate in a coalition, cooperation or collaboration with Macron’s ruling party, the head of the conservative group, Eric Ciotti, has said. Both Bardella and Marechal said Monday they have reached out to the conservatives about joining their efforts.

(Adds comment from le Pen in third paragraph)

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