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French finance chief warns left-wing bloc would trigger EU exit

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 14 Jun 2024, 06:14 PM
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Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that a new left-wing coalition coming to power in France would lead to the country’s exit from the European Union (EU).

The programme of the Popular Front, which is made up of four left-leaning parties, is “complete madness” with economic collapse guaranteed, Le Maire said on Franceinfo radio Friday. If the group gained power it would lead to mass unemployment and France leaving the EU.  

The Greens, Socialists, Communists and far-left France Unbowed party late Thursday announced they would contest the ballot as a single group, with polls showing it can win the second biggest bloc behind National Rally.

Members from the conservative Republicans are also poised to clinch an alliance with Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally ahead of France’s snap legislative election.

These moves signal a potential disaster for President Emmanuel Macron’s party. Because France has a two-round electoral system with a bar to move onto the second vote, many of Macron’s centrist Renaissance candidates may not even make it to the final election day.

“We’re in the process of working and finalising this agreement both on the proposal platform and on the nominations,” National Rally Spokesman Sebastien Chenu said in a Friday interview on France 2, referring to a tie-up with Republican lawmakers. Around Republican leader Eric Ciotti, “there will be a large number of candidates, some 80 from the Republican family,” he said.

Macron dissolved the National Assembly on Sunday and announced a two-round legislative ballot on June 30 and July 7. This came after his political group was trounced by National Rally in European Parliament elections.

The National Rally is on course to win as many as 270 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, compared with 90 to 130 for Macron and his allies, according to a projection by pollster Elabe.

Adding to the disorder, France’s CGT union called for strikes across the country Saturday to warn against France falling into “fascism”.

The decision to call a snap election caused political chaos and spooked investors as the vote raises uncertainty over how the next government will address France’s public finances. Le Pen’s party is on track to win the most seats, which would hand it the premiership and give it leverage in forming a new cabinet, including more influence in economic policy.

French bonds tumbled, driving yields over safer German peers to the highest level in seven years. French equity markets were also hit, with the CAC 40 index falling 2%, putting it on track for its worst week in nearly a year.

Le Maire said in the interview that the National Rally’s programme is built on “lies” and said its pledge to lower VAT on heating oil, gas, electricity and food will cost the state €24 billion .

He said the National Rally and Popular Front’s programmes will not be able to finance France’s debt.

Further complicating matters, the Republicans are locked in bitter infighting as most of the party’s senior members are trying to expel their president, Eric Ciotti, after he announced a pact with National Rally. He refuses to step down and is appealing at the Paris tribunal.

 


  - Bloomberg

 

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