Monday, June 24, 2024

French politicians in ‘national seduction’ campaign to form marriages of convenience before snap election – Europe live

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French politicians rush to form marriages of convenience ahead of snap election

Kim Willsher

In the wake of Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call a snap general election after the far-right National Rally’s win in the European elections on Sunday, French politicians are engaged in what the media has labelled a “national seduction” campaign to form hasty marriages of convenience to fight for seats.

On the left, political leaders announced they had agreed to form a new Popular Front to put up a single candidate in each constituency. The grouping includes socialists, communists and the hard left La France Insoumise, but such alliances have a shaky history in France and it is unclear what role, if any, the leader of La France Insoumise, the hardline Jean-Luc Mélenchon will play. This remains the alliance’s most prickly question.

On the right, the biggest question is which MPs from the conservative historically Gaullist Les Républicains – if any – will ally with the National Rally, which currently does not have enough people to stand in every constituency.

Also on the right, the former prime minister Édouard Philippe in Macron’s centrist government, who has formed his own conservative party called Horizons, has called for a united front against the National Rally.

On the far right, National Rally’s Jordan Bardella has given his first interview since Sunday: “We are ready to govern”, he told French television.

Jean-Luc Melenchon addresses activists on Sunday, June 9.
Jean-Luc Melenchon addresses activists on Sunday, June 9. Photograph: Jeanne Accorsini/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

Key events

Kim Willsher

Kim Willsher

The ink is barely dry on reports there is a left-wing alliance, when Raphaël Glucksmann has said there is no formal agreement as yet and he rules out one with La France Insoumise.

The right is also tearing itself apart: Eric Ciotti, head of the Republicans, is reported to be considering an alliance with far right National Rally. This has caused outrage among other notables and threatens to tear the opposition right apart.

This implosion of moderate right and left can only benefit the National Rally.

Raphaël Glucksmann on election night. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Turnout for European elections at 50.93%

Jennifer Rankin

Jennifer Rankin

Around one in two voters took part in the European elections last week, with the latest data showing turnout almost static.

According to figures released by the European parliament on Tuesday, the 2024 turnout was 50.93%, a tiny improvement on the 50.66% reported in 2019.

Behind the headline number are 27 different national stories, with voters in some countries, such as Spain and Italy, less motivated, while in others, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, there were significant jumps in turnout.

For parliament officials, the big trend is the narrowing gap between “old” member states and newer ones that joined from 2004. Turnout has been traditionally lower in central and eastern Europe, but the gap is closing.

Slovakia, which was rocked by the attempted assassination of prime minister Robert Fico only three weeks before voting began, saw turnout jump to 34.38%, up from 22.74%. Croatia has now taken Slovakia’s traditional title as member state with lowest turnout: barely one in five voters went to the polls (21.34% down from 29.85% in 2019).

In Hungary, where the campaign was electrified by a challenger to long-term leader Viktor Orbán, turnout rose to 59.26%, up from 43.36%.

In the Czech Republic, where former prime minister Andrej Babiš’ party topped the polls, following a campaign against the Green Deal and migration, turnout was up to 36.45% from 28.72%.

In Poland, however, there was less interest in European elections, in the wake of last October’s landmark victory for a coalition led by centre-right Donald Tusk at the expense of the populist nationalist Law and Justice party. Polish turnout slipped to 40.65%, from 45.68%.

Founding member state Italy with historically high interest in European elections, saw turnout drop to 48.3% down from 54.5%, while Spain saw an even bigger fall to 49.21% from 60.73%.

Turnout was slightly higher in France at 51.5% (50.12% in 2019), while in Germany it rose to 64.78% up from 61.38%.

As French politicians continue debating potential alliances, Place Publique’s Raphaël Glucksmann has said that unity cannot be achieved at the price of renouncing principles.

He listed military aid to Ukraine and the acceleration of the green transition as some of these principles.

1. Nous avons posé un cap clair et nous nous y tiendrons.

Face au RN aux portes du pouvoir, il est irresponsable de refuser de discuter du rassemblement.

Mais l’union ne peut pas se faire au prix du renoncement aux principes et nous avons posé des points clairs.

— Raphael Glucksmann (@rglucks1) June 11, 2024

EU elections fallout: a shock snap vote, resignations and the far right

Here’s a video report on the aftermath of the European elections.

EU elections fallout: a shock snap vote, resignations and the far right – video report

French politicians rush to form marriages of convenience ahead of snap election

Kim Willsher

Kim Willsher

In the wake of Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call a snap general election after the far-right National Rally’s win in the European elections on Sunday, French politicians are engaged in what the media has labelled a “national seduction” campaign to form hasty marriages of convenience to fight for seats.

On the left, political leaders announced they had agreed to form a new Popular Front to put up a single candidate in each constituency. The grouping includes socialists, communists and the hard left La France Insoumise, but such alliances have a shaky history in France and it is unclear what role, if any, the leader of La France Insoumise, the hardline Jean-Luc Mélenchon will play. This remains the alliance’s most prickly question.

On the right, the biggest question is which MPs from the conservative historically Gaullist Les Républicains – if any – will ally with the National Rally, which currently does not have enough people to stand in every constituency.

Also on the right, the former prime minister Édouard Philippe in Macron’s centrist government, who has formed his own conservative party called Horizons, has called for a united front against the National Rally.

On the far right, National Rally’s Jordan Bardella has given his first interview since Sunday: “We are ready to govern”, he told French television.

Jean-Luc Melenchon addresses activists on Sunday, June 9. Photograph: Jeanne Accorsini/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

‘We are stronger than the chancellor’: Far-right German politician downplays controversies

Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany, has downplayed the controversies surrounding the party’s lead candidate in the European election and insisted that the AfD is now more powerful than Germany’s chancellor.

Maximilian Krah resigned from the AfD leadership in May after his comment that the SS, the Nazis’ main paramilitary force, were “not all criminals” fuelled outrage.

The AfD was expelled from the far-right Identity and Democracy group, which includes members such as France’s National Rally. But Krah was still on the ballot in the European election and was re-elected as MEP.

Asked about Krah, von Storch told the BBC:

Well he was just excluded from the group, so he will not join the AfD group in the parliament, and so that’s over, and we could come and talk about what led AfD to be the second-biggest party in Germany, the strongest in the east, the strongest within the working class people, the strongest with the young people.

People don’t care so much about these things. Yes, we had a problem with that person. We took the decision to exclude him from our group, and so let’s move on forward.

But pressed on whether Krah will remain a member of the AfD party itself, von Storch said “yes, but, you know, that’s something else” and that the party will have to “see through what has come out as evidence from other things.”

In a combative response, von Storch said:

You are trying to focus on one person. You’re talking to the deputy chair of the second-biggest party in Germany. We are stronger than the chancellor.

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The French far-right Reconquête’s Marion Maréchal said “the national camp no longer has the right to be divided.”

Face à la coalition de Macron et à celle de l’extrême gauche, le camp national n’a plus le droit d’être divisé.
À @Reconquete_off, nous avons toujours porté l’idée de l’union. Il n’est plus temps de dire mais de faire. #UnionNationale

— Marion Maréchal (@MarionMarechal) June 11, 2024

A group of left-wing parties in France has come together ahead of the snap elections, and will run joint candidates.

Ursula von der Leyen in pole position as she tries to build majority to keep job

Ursula von der Leyen has begun trying to craft a majority for a second term as European Commission president, after major gains for the far right that are likely to mean a less stable European parliament.

Von der Leyen, a German Christian Democrat, was jubilant after her European People’s party (EPP) secured 186 of the 720 seats in the European elections, maintaining its 25-year hold as the largest group and leaving her a narrow path to a second term.

But she has been presented with a wild card: Emmanuel Macron’s bombshell decision to call snap elections after his Renaissance party came a dismal second to Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in France.

Von der Leyen, the first woman to lead the commission, was the EPP’s lead candidate and remains in pole position. With the added uncertainty of French elections in the mix, she has to clear two hurdles. First she needs the backing of a qualified majority of EU leaders, then an absolute majority – 361 votes – in the new European parliament.

Read the full story here, by Jennifer Rankin in Brussels and Angela Giuffrida in Rome

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press conference at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party’s headquarters in Berlin, 10 June. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

‘We are ready to govern’, French far-right National Rally’s Bardella says

In a television interview this morning, the French far-right National Rally’s Jordan Bardella argued his party is ready to govern, while noting that not everything the party wants to do would be possible while Emmanuel Macron is president.

But, he said, it would be possible to do things on issues such as security and migration.

Bardella also said he wants to build a majority that is as large as possible, and work with other political groups.

Macron called snap legislative elections after his allies performed poorly in the European elections on Sunday, while the far-right in France came in first place.

The National Rally took 31.37%, while Macron’s allies were at merely 14.6%.

Welcome to the blog

Good morning and welcome back to the blog, where we will be looking today at reactions to the European elections and what comes next.

Send tips and comments to lili.bayer@theguardian.com.

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