Friday, June 14, 2024

Europe set for hard-Right coalitions as parties negotiate alliances

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Hard-Right parties in France and the Netherlands raced to agree alliances yesterday after a shock surge in support in the European Parliament elections.

In France, the leader of the conservative Les Republicains party, Eric Ciotti, called for an alliance with Marine Le Pen‘s hard-Right National Rally (RN) in this month’s snap elections.

Ms Le Pen welcomed his announcement as a ‘brave choice’, although senior members of Mr Ciotti’s party accused him of betrayal and called on him to resign. It is the first time a leader of a traditional party has backed an alliance with RN, which could see the parties field joint candidates or agree not to oppose each other.

In the Netherlands, populist leader Geert Wilders claimed the four parties negotiating to form a coalition government had reached agreement on a cabinet team.

Marine Le Pen pictured casting her ballot for the European Parliament election at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, north of France on June 9
Marine Le Pen pictured on the day of the vote for the European Parliament election at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, north of France on Saturday

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Mr Wilders, whose Party for Freedom won national elections more than six months ago and came second in the weekend’s Dutch European Parliament vote, said: ‘There is a deal, you’ll hear more in the coming hours, days.’ Prospective ministers still face hurdles before a new government can be sworn in, but a deal on the coalition cabinet would be a key step towards forming the first Dutch government led by a hard-Right party. Elsewhere, Austria became the latest European country to announce elections, to be held in September.

The hard-Right Freedom Party narrowly won the country’s European Parliament elections for the first time, part of a surge in support across much of the Continent, and polls suggest it has a clear lead in national elections.

Voter turnout in the weekend’s European elections was 50.93 per cent, a slight increase on the 50.66 who voted in 2019.

Police move past burning trash during an ‘antifascist rally’ following the European election results, in Toulouse
Activists and demonstrators take part in an ‘antifascist rally’

The centre-Right European People’s Party remained the largest in the European Parliament, but the increase in seats for parties from the hard-Right will lead to greater calls for tougher policies on immigration.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron denied accusations he had taken a reckless gamble with the country’s political future by calling a snap election, saying it was ‘a gesture of great confidence in the French people’.

One poll on Monday suggested 19 per cent of voters would support Mr Macron’s party, with 34 per cent voting for RN.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire admitted the country could face ‘a regime crisis’.

Left-wing parties have agreed to form an alliance in a bid to stop RN from achieving a majority in the two-round national elections on June 30 and July 7.

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