July 15. 2024. 6:28

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Top French conservative MEP says will ‘of course’ vote far-right to block the left

The lead candidate of French conservative Les Républicains (LR), François-Xavier Bellamy, announced on Thursday (13 June) he would “of course” vote for a far-right candidate in the second round of snap legislative elections on 7 July if their opponent was from the left.

This means he will “of course” choose a candidate of the far-right Rassemblement national (RN) over a candidate of the left ‘Front Populaire’ alliance.

The legislative election – called by President Emmanuel Macron after his political option was heavily defeated by RN in the European elections on Sunday (9 June) – is a two-round ballot, held on 30 June and 7 July. Any candidate with 12.5% of the vote is through to the second round.

Given the shifts in France’s political landscape, whose centre has largely caved in, it is highly likely that second rounds will be face-offs between the far-right and the left.

It is not the first time Bellamy expresses sympathy for the far-right.

He had openly supported fiery anti-immigration pundit Eric Zemmour’s run in the 2022 presidential elections and said he would vote for him over Emmanuel Macron if the two were to reach the second round – which never happened. Zemmour won only 7% of the vote share at the time and RN’s Marine Le Pen eventually lost to Macron.

Thursday’s announcement comes amid an existential crisis the LR have been facing since the party president Eric Ciotti announced on Tuesday (11 June) he would form an electoral coalition with the RN, drawing criticism from many sides.

In a press release, Bellamy, along with two other newly-elected LR MEPs, denounced the move as playing into Macron’s hands and turning the French political life into an RN-Macron dichotomy.

He called it “useless” and an “abdication” to the far-right – but fell short of condemning it altogether.

Instead, he said on Thursday he was ready to vote far-right in the second round to “prevent France from falling into a far-left alliance”.

Other LR MEPs, including first-time candidates Céline Imart and former general Christophe Gomard, initially voiced their support for Ciotti – before Imart changed her stance a few hours later.

LR’s German counterparts, the consevative CDU, told Euractiv on Tuesday that an alliance with the far-right would automatically see the LR’s membership in the European conservatives EPP family revoked, which would deal the party a serious blow.

On Sunday, Macron announced the dissolution of the National Assembly and called snap legislative elections, following a crushing defeat by the RN, who secured over a third of the votes nationally, winning twice as many votes as Macron’s list.

Read more with Euractiv

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