French extreme-right leaders call for coalition ahead of legislative elections

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April 20 (Reuters) – Leaders of the party founded by Eric Zemmour, the extreme-right candidate who was knocked out of France’s presidential election in the first round, have called for right and far-right political parties to ally ahead of parliamentary polls in June.

The executive vice-presidents of Zemmour’s Reconquest party said in Le Figaro newspaper they were open to coalition talks with the National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, who will challenge President Emmanuel Macron in a second round run-off, as well as The Republicans and Debout La France.

“This choice does not call into question the singularity of our line and our strategy, which cannot be found anywhere else in the political spectrum,” said Marion Marechal, Guillaume Peltier and Nicolas Bay in a joint statement.

They said they were concerned the election was “being played out on left-wing positions”.

Zemmour, who had proposed if elected to deport unemployed immigrants and block remittances, saw support crumble in the polls after Russia invaded Ukraine and far-right voters rallied around Le Pen, who had also faced Macron in the 2017 runoff.

Speaking on BFM TV, Marechal, who is Le Pen’s niece, said that electing Le Pen prime minister should Macron win the presidential vote was “an option”.

Marechal officially joined Zemmour’s campaign last month – a blow to Le Pen’s campaign, which had already seen several defections.

Macron’s polling lead has widened ahead of Sunday’s runoff, but a victory for him is not guaranteed. Both candidates are courting voters who backed far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round, many of whom could abstain or leave their ballot papers blank.

Melenchon on Tuesday urged voters to elect him as prime minister in June’s National Assembly vote, after he came in a narrow third in the first round of the presidential election, with 22% of the vote to Le Pen’s 23%.

Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Catherine Evans

PHOTO – The extreme-right candidate Eric Zemmour. EPA-EFE/BERTRAND GUAY / POOL

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