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Germany’s Scholz says he consoles Macron ‘every day’

The German chancellor has told supporters that he wants to prevent “a populist government” gaining power in France

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that he texts French President Emmanuel Macron every day to express his support and discuss the “disheartening” popularity of the right-wing National Rally party.

Jordan Bardella’s National Rally (RN) trounced Macron’s centrist Ensemble bloc in the first round of parliamentary elections in France over the weekend. The National Rally, formerly led by Marine Le Pen, won 33% of the vote, ahead of the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) with 28%, and Ensemble with 20%.

Speaking at his SPD party’s summer festival in Berlin on Wednesday, Scholz said that he sends daily messages of encouragement to Macron, and that the pair “discuss the situation, which is indeed quite disheartening,” according to Germany’s dpa news agency.

Scholz added that he will work “to prevent the French, whom I love and respect, and the country that means so much to me, from having a government led by a right-wing populist party.”

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FILE PHOTO. France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the press at the end of the European Council Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2024.
Why the French chose the ‘radical far right’ over Macron’s establishment

Macron called early parliamentary elections last month after the RN won 30 of France’s 81 seats in the European Parliament. However, a second round of parliamentary elections will be held this weekend, and the right-wing party may not emerge with an absolute majority. 

Under France’s electoral system, a candidate must win more than 50% of the vote to secure a seat in the first round. The RN won 37 out of the French legislature’s 577 seats in the first vote, while Ensemble took only two. If no candidate passes the 50% threshold, any contender with 12.5% of the vote or more enters the second round runoff.

Ahead of this runoff, more than 220 third-place candidates have withdrawn from their races to prevent splitting the anti-RN vote and to boost the second-place challengers most likely to beat the right-wingers. These withdrawals have crossed ideological lines, with the NPF instructing candidates in some districts to make way for pro-Macron MPs, and the centrists pulling out of one race – in the city of Amiens – to boost the chances of self-described “radical reformist” Francois Ruffin.

Bardella, who would become France’s prime minister if the RN won an absolute majority, has condemned this “alliance of dishonour” between former political rivals. 

READ MORE: Le Pen accuses Macron of preparing ‘coup d’etat’

RN leaders have repeatedly stated that they will only form a government if they win an outright majority. However, in an interview with French radio on Tuesday, Le Pen said that her party would consider an alliance with independent MPs and lawmakers from the conservative Republicans party, who picked up around 10% of the vote in the first round.

The RN needs to win 289 seats to hold an absolute majority. Prior to the wave of withdrawals, French media predicted that the party would take between 230 and 280 seats in the second round.

July 03, 2024 at 09:29PM

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