France's Le Pen likens left's protest call to US Capitol Hill storming

RN leader compares leftist politician's call for a march to PM's office to 2021 Capitol riot, marking hardening stance

Reuters July 10, 2024
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, member of parliament of the RN, France, July 10, 2024. PHOTO: REUTERS


French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen on Wednesday drew parallels between a hard-left politician's call for a march towards the prime minister's office and the assault on Capitol Hill by supporters of former US President Donald Trump.

The comments marked a hardening of language by Le Pen, who has framed tactical voting in Sunday's inconclusive parliamentary ballot as an establishment plot to keep her party out of power.

The leftwing New Popular Front (NFP) unexpectedly won most seats but with no group having gained an absolute majority, France has been plunged into uncertainty, with no obvious path to a stable government.

Le Pen said the NFP has almost "subversive attitudes since they are calling for the Matignon to be taken by force, from what we could understand," referring to the prime minister's office.

"It's their assault on the Capitol," Le Pen added, in a reference to when Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a bid to overturn his election defeat.

Read also: France's left-wing alliance seeks prime minister candidate post-election

The hard left France Unbowed, which is part of the NFP, immediately rejected her accusation.

After President Emmanuel Macron asked centrist Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to stay on for now to run current affairs, former France Unbowed lawmaker Adrien Quatennens had accused Macron of wanting to "steal" the left's victory and suggested a "big popular march" to the prime minister's office.

Quatennens said Le Pen was "nuts" to see his post for a march as a call for insurrection.

Le Pen has spent the last few years cleaning up the image of a party once known for its xenophobic and antisemitic attitudes and she now has to decide which direction to take if it is to break through and win power in the 2027 presidential election.

Opinion polls had projected her anti-immigration, eurosceptic National Rally (RN) would win Sunday's election but the RN finished third behind the NFP and Macron's centrists.

Frenzied talks

The leftist NFP, which combines France Unbowed, the Communists, Greens and Socialists, continued talks to try and agree on a cabinet and policy plans.

Amid warnings from rating agencies, financial markets, the European Commission and France's euro zone partners are all watching closely to see whether the impasse can be broken.

It would be customary for Macron to call on the biggest parliamentary group to form a government, but nothing in the constitution obliges him to do so.

Options include a broad coalition or a minority government or a technocratic government led by a non-politically affiliated person, either of which would seek to pass laws in parliament on a case by case basis, with ad hoc agreements.

Phones are ringing constantly, political sources have told Reuters, with some centrists now hoping they can reach a deal with the conservative The Republicans and edge the left out.

"I think there is an alternative to the New Popular Front," Aurore Berge, a senior lawmaker from Macron's Renaissance group told France 2 TV. "I think the French don't want the NFP's platform to be implemented, I think they don't want tax increases."

Any government - of the left, centre, or a broader coalition - could quickly fall victim to a confidence vote from the opposition if it has not secured sufficient solid support.


Lawmaker Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade, from Macron's Renaissance, told Reuters a broad union of moderates of the left and right was the only viable solution.

But as others in the centrist camp openly push for a deal only with conservatives, François Cormier, also from Renaissance, said party members who want a deal with the left as well could constitute a breakaway parliamentary group.

Another lawmaker from Macron's Renaissance party privately said that Le Pen's RN would inevitably play a key role in a very fragmented parliament, saying it has a big enough group to weigh on whether bills will be approved or not.

Macron, whose term ends in 2027, called the parliamentary ballot after his party was trounced by the far right in EU elections last month, had said it would clarify the landscape - which has not happened.

"To say the least, this is not a great success for Emmanuel Macron," Le Pen quipped.


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