Monday, June 24, 2024

Macron snap election leaves rivals stunned after EU vote

(BBC News) France’s political leaders are scrambling to prepare for snap elections after President Emmanuel Macron dissolved parliament in response to a stinging European vote defeat by the far-right National Rally.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has warned the two-round vote, starting on June 30 could have “the most serious consequences” in modern French history.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats were also heavily beaten in Sunday’s European elections by the conservative opposition, but he has ruled out holding early elections.

The conservative CSU premier of Bavaria, Markus Söder, said Scholz’s government was essentially finished and needed to follow the French example.

Germany is not scheduled to hold fresh elections until 2025, but Söder said the “country needs a new start.”

Macron ally Yaël Braun-Pivet, president of the National Assembly, said there had been an alternative to new elections, which involved a government pact, but “the president decided that path wasn’t open to him.” Without a majority in parliament, the government relies on support from other parties to pass legislation.

There was also frustration from the Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, that the vote was taking place three weeks before the capital hosts the Olympics.

Macron’s Renew party polled less than 15% of the vote on Sunday, while the anti-immigration National Rally (RN) of Marine Le Pen and young leader Jordan Bardella, secured more than 31%.

The decision to hold new elections came as a shock across the political spectrum, with reports of a hastily organized meeting involving top RN leaders and Marion Maréchal from rival far-right party Reconquête.

There were calls for France’s bitterly divided left to rally around Socialist Raphaël Glucksmann, who scored almost 14% in the European vote.

Macron joined German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, to mark the 80th anniversary of an infamous Nazi massacre in World War II, when SS troops murdered 643 villagers in 1944.

Steinmeier said it was fitting on the day after European elections that Europeans never forgot the damage done by nationalism and hate: “Let us never forget the miracle of reconciliation that the European Union has worked.”

Alternative for Germany (AfD) came second in Germany’s European vote on Sunday, ahead of all three parties in the Scholz’s coalition government, despite a succession of scandals involving the AfD’s top two candidates.

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