France's leftist alliance leaders vow to 'extinguish the flame' of far right in upcoming elections

PARIS (AP) — Leaders of France’s left-wing parties allied in a new coalition and outlined their plan on Friday to prevent the surging far right from taking power in upcoming snap national parliamentary elections.

Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration National Rally is also seeking allies to boost its chances of becoming the first far-right force to lead the French government since the Nazi occupation. Embattled President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called the alliances on both left and right ‘’crazy'' and incoherent.

While differences between them remain, the leaders of the usually fractious French left-wing parties emphasized that all of them had compromised during four days of negotiations and aligned their views on issues such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict to prevent a victory by Le Pen’s camp.

Various parties on the left, unions and antiracism groups are also coming together Saturday to hold protests in Paris and across the country against the far right.

The early legislative vote June 30 and July 7 was triggered by Macron’s decision on Sunday to dissolve the National Assembly. France’s lower house of parliament, after his centrist party suffered a crushing defeat by the National Rally in the election for the European Parliament.

The far right is “at the door of power,” leaders of the leftist alliance, named the New Popular Front, warned at a news conference. They urged supporters to mobilize rather than despair, show up and cast their ballots, instead of staying behind, resigned that the outcome of the “historic election” had already been determined in favor of a party with a history of racism and xenophobia.

“We are going to extinguish the flame of the National Rally,” said Marine Tondelier, the national secretary of the Ecologists party. “It’s either us or them.”

Meanwhile, Jordan Bardella, the president of the National Rally, attended an event at a farm in the rural French village of Chuelles, emphasizing the party’s commitment to agricultural issues and rural voters. He highlighted the National Rally’s plans to support French farmers and protect their interests against globalization and EU regulations.

In addition to the environmentalist parties, the New Popular Front alliance, named after a similar coalition formed in the 1930s against the rise of fascism in France, also includes the French Socialists and Communists and the hard-left France Unbowed party of Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has been accused of an antisemitic stance in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

If elected, they promised to repeal a controversial reform of unemployment benefits pushed by Macron's government and reverse his deeply unpopular pension reform law that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64. They also vowed to raise the minimum wage, adjust salaries and pensions with the inflation rate, and freeze food and energy prices to boost people's purchasing power.

“Our goal is to mark a clear break from Emmanuel Macron's policies to address people's immediate needs and set out our county on a vitally important environmental path,” Manuel Bompard of the France Unbowed party said.

The leaders of the alliance's four main parties emphasized that there was no place for antisemitism within their ranks. On the sensitive subject of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, they said they have agreed to condemn the Oct. 7 deadly Hamas-led incursion into southern Israel as “terrorist massacres” and demanded the release of all hostages held by the group in Gaza.

They also promised unwavering support for Ukraine and its defense against Russian aggression, although they vowed that no French troops would ever be sent to Ukraine to help its fight.

Macron dismissed the new alliances as political maneuvering that can't paper over deep differences, notably over Ukraine and Gaza.

‘’We are dealing with crazy people. It’s not serious,'' he said on the sidelines of a G-7 summit in Italy.

‘’We are at a moment of extreme gravity in the life of the country. There are stakes, with wars, with unprecedented economic challenges,'' he said. ‘’I have trust in (the people’s) capacity to look at the projects on the table, and look seriously at whether these projects are bringing solutions for the future of the country and for them.”


Surk reported from Nice, France. Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.