French Conservatives Expel Leader for Making Far-Right Pact

(Bloomberg) -- The leaders of France’s conservative Republicans agreed unanimously to expel their president, Eric Ciotti, after he announced a pact with the far right ahead of the snap legislative election.

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Ciotti had called for his party to form an alliance with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and its candidates to boost the right’s chances of winning a majority in the lower house in the two-round ballot. The move had prompted public calls for his resignation from other senior Republicans.

“By conducting secret negotiations, without consultation with our political family and its activists, Eric Ciotti has completely broken with the statutes and the line held by the Republicans,” Secretary-General Annie Genevard told reporters following a meeting at which she said party leaders decided to exclude him.

Ciotti responded in a post on X that the meeting had no legal basis as it cannot be called without his intervention, adding: “I am and remain the president of our political group, elected by the members.”

Asked about his reaction, Jean-Francois Cope, Republican mayor of the city of Meaux, east of Paris, told reporters that Ciotti is no longer a member of the party.

French President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the National Assembly on Sunday and called a new legislative vote, to take place on June 30 and July 7, after his group was trounced by the National Rally in European Parliament elections.

Ciotti’s departure raises questions over how many Republicans lawmakers could cooperate with the far right. National Rally President Jordan Bardella said on Tuesday he expected several dozen to join forces with his party.

(Updates with comment from Republicans secretary general in third paragraph, Ciotti comment in fourth paragraph.)

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