French left and center scramble to block Le Pen's surge

Over 200 centre and left candidates withdrew from the second round of voting in a bid to consolidate opposition to Le Pen's National Rally, who secured a leading 34% of votes Sunday.

French left and center scramble to block Le Pen's surge
AP Photo/Louise Delmotte
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Leftist and centrist parties in France are joining forces to thwart Marine Le Pen's right-wing National Rally party from gaining power in the second round of parliamentary elections.

The National Rally secured a leading 34% on Sunday during the first round of voting, followed by the left-wing New Popular Front (28.12%), and President Emmanuel Macron's centrist Ensemble Coalition (20%). The electoral landscape is further complicated by over 300 three-way run-offs, potentially favoring Le Pen's candidates, reported the BBC.

In response, at least 200 candidates from the left and center have withdrawn from the race. Le Monde reports 134 leftist and 82 centrists stepping aside to consolidate opposition against Le Pen's party in key constituencies.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the hard-Left France Unbowed party, urged third-place candidates to withdraw. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, aligned with Macron, supported this strategy. "France deserves that we not hesitate," he said.

However, the alliance faces internal resistance. Some centrists, wary of the hard-Left's spending policies and stance on Israel, refuse to back them. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and former prime minister Edouard Philippe notably oppose blanket instructions to vote against Le Pen's party.

Amid the political reshuffling, Le Pen has accused Macron of an "administrative coup d'état," alleging he plans to make key appointments in police and military roles to counter potential electoral outcomes.

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