Le Pen Denounces Rivals’ Efforts to Keep Far Right From Power

(Bloomberg) -- Far-right leader Marine Le Pen lashed out at President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist group and a left-wing alliance for joining forces to block her National Rally party from getting an absolute majority in the second and final round of the French legislative election.

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Macron’s group, the left-wing New Popular Front and other parties opposed to the National Rally strategically pulled 223 candidates out of constituencies with more than two people in Sunday’s runoff vote in an effort to avoid splitting opposition to the far right. That means Le Pen’s party and its allies will be on the ballot in 214 districts where rivals have teamed up.

“I find it quite contemptuous of the political parties to consider (voters) a bit like things that one can move around, to whom one says do this, say that, or like children,” Le Pen said in an interview on TF1 TV late Wednesday. “But I think that the French have had enough of not being treated like responsible adults who are perfectly capable of knowing for themselves what’s good for the country and what’s not.”

A poll by Toluna-Harris Interactive conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday showed that the National Rally and its allies would get between 190 and 220 seats, significantly less than the 289 needed for an outright majority.

Winning an absolute majority in the 577-seat lower house would enable Le Pen’s group to impose its agenda in a power-sharing arrangement with Macron, a so-called cohabitation in which the president would still control matters of foreign affairs, including defense.

“One cannot govern if one doesn’t have a majority,” Le Pen said.

If the National Rally and its allies fall short of an outright majority, there would be a hung parliament in which no party would have the numbers to unilaterally pass legislation, resulting in a gridlock.

Both of those possible outcomes would hurt efforts to fix France’s public finances and threaten a wider European impact, according to Scope Ratings analysts Thomas Gillet and Brian Marly.

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Macron dissolved the National Assembly last month and called a snap legislative vote after his alliance was trounced in European Parliament elections, a decision that initially led to the worst bond rout since the sovereign debt crisis and wiped almost $200 billion off the value of stocks.

His party and its allies, which promote a pro-business, pro-Europe, pro-Ukraine vision for France, lagged in third place in the first round last Sunday. Le Pen is trying to convince voters to hand her an outright majority so she can implement a program that includes reversing Macron’s pension reform, cutting value-added tax and reducing immigration.

Le Pen and the president of her party, Jordan Bardella, have been seeking allies to squeeze out a majority to be in a position to form the next government. In an interview on BFM TV, Bardella said he expects to win an absolute majority, dismissing the poll that projects otherwise. He said pollsters significantly underestimated the party’s seats in the legislative elections in 2022.

By joining forces against the far right, the centrist and left parties are seeking to create what Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has characterized as a “pluralistic National Assembly.”

“There will be a new setting after these legislative elections,” Attal said in a separate interview on BFM TV late Wednesday. “Everybody will need to reassess the way they work with each other. It will depend on our capacity to do things differently.”

But the coalition against the National Rally, which includes the far-left France Unbowed, has drawn criticism from political observers for being expedient. Attal defended it, saying that unlike the far left, the far right has a chance of winning an outright majority.

“So it’s an act of responsibility,” he said.

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