More than 200 candidates withdraw ahead of France's second-round election

French centrists and left-wingers are attempting to block the far right from winning a majority in the second round of voting in the parliamentary elections. More than 210 candidates have withdrawn ahead of Sunday's runoff, to avoid splitting the anti-National Rally vote.

After Sunday’s first-round vote, candidates who qualified had till 18.00 on Tuesday to declare their candidacy or drop out ahead of the second round. In a bid to block the far right from winning a majority, more than 210 candidates, the vast majority left-wing and Macronist, withdrew to avoid splitting the vote as part of a voting strategy known as the republican front.

With these tactical withdrawals, the left and centrist parties hope to prevent the far-right National Rally (RN) from winning an absolute majority of 289 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. This would see the party's 28-year-old president, Jordan Bardella, become prime minister.

Cross-party calls

RN finished first with 33 per cent of the vote in the first round of the elections on 30 June, followed by the left-wing New Popular Front alliance on with 28 per cent. President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist bloc came third with 22 per cent of the vote.

Pollsters project that RN could win as many as 230 to 280 seats, but that was before the tactical withdrawals and cross-party calls for voters to back whichever candidate was best placed to defeat the local RN rival.

Macron told ministers on Monday that denying RN a majority was the top priority and urged voters to rally behind candidates who are "clearly republican and democratic". 

It remains unclear, however, whether the republican front that has worked in the past will be a successful strategy this time. RN figurehead Marine Le Pen has tried hard to rid her party of its racist and antisemitic reputation. With widespread voter anger at Macron - seen by many as a president out of touch with ordinary people - the party is in a strong position.


National Rally figurehead Marine Le Pen © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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