Allies relieved by Le Pen loss, question next steps

July 8, 2024 1:20 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Many of France’s allies breathed a sigh of relief that the worst was averted as Marine Le Pen’s far-right failed to win a snap election on Sunday but they noted that a messy coalition from a hung parliament could also pose headaches for Europe.

Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) had been favourite to top the polls, raising the risk of France’s first far-right government since World War Two and threatening to upend economic and foreign policy in the euro zone’s second-largest economy.

In particular, Ukraine’s allies feared a Le Pen-led government could be soft on Moscow and pare back military aid that Kyiv has relied on since the Russian invasion in 2022, though her party has latterly said Russia was a threat.

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The National Rally’s defeat signals at least a temporary pushback against a far-right surge in Europe, but could herald a period of instability with a new government in an uneasy “cohabitation” with President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron had called the snap poll in an attempt to wrest the initiative back from Le Pen but his own party was left trailing behind an alliance of leftist parties that performed far better than expected to take first place.

Several early reactions from overseas rejoiced that the immediate threat of a far-right government had been averted.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s party congratulated the leftist alliance, called the New Popular Front, for a victory that “stops the far-right from reaching the government”.

Nikos Androulakis, the head of Greece’s Socialist PASOK party, said the French people had “raised a wall against the far right, racism and intolerance and guarded the timeless principles of the French Republic: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.”

Colombia’s leftist firebrand President, Gustavo Petro, also congratulated the French for keeping out Le Pen.

An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called it a “huge relief” but added: “what it means for Europe on a day to day basis remains to be seen though.