Demonstrators gather to confront the far right… ahead of early elections in France

Anti-racism groups will join French unions and a new left-wing coalition to protest in Paris and across France on Saturday against the rise of the nationalist right as frenetic campaigning continues ahead of snap parliamentary elections.

In Paris, those who fear the election will produce France’s first far-right government since World War II will gather in the Place de la République before marching through eastern Paris.

Crowds have been gathering daily since Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Rally made historic gains in Sunday’s European Parliament elections, crushing President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business moderates and prompting him to dissolve the National Assembly. New elections for the lower house of parliament are scheduled to be held in two rounds, on June 30 and July 7.

Macron remains president until 2027 and is responsible for foreign and defense policy, but his presidency will be weakened if the National Rally party wins and takes control of the government and domestic policy.

“We need a democratic and social renaissance – if the far right is not to take power,” French unions said in a statement on Friday. “Our republic and our democracy are in danger.”

They noted that in Europe and around the world, far-right leaders have passed laws that harm women, LGBT people, and people of color. To prevent the National Rally Party from winning the upcoming elections, the leftist parties finally agreed on Friday to put aside their differences over the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and form a coalition. They urged French citizens to defeat the far right.

French opinion polls indicate that the National Rally Party – whose founder has been repeatedly convicted of racism and anti-Semitism – is expected to advance in the first round of parliamentary elections.

The party topped the European elections, receiving more than 30% of votes cast in France, nearly double the number of votes received by Macron’s Ennahda party.

Macron’s term remains in place for another three years, and he will retain control of foreign affairs and defense regardless of the outcome of the French parliamentary elections. But his presidency will be weakened if the National Rally wins, which could put 28-year-old party leader Jordan Bardella on track to become the next prime minister, with authority over domestic and economic affairs.

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