French protesters stand up to far right ahead of country’s snap elections

PARIS — Antiracism groups will join French unions and a brand-new left-wing coalition in protests in Paris and across France on Saturday against the surging nationalist far right as frenzied campaigning is underway ahead of snap parliamentary elections.

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

Crowds have been gathering daily ever since Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Rally made historic gains in the European Parliament elections on Sunday, crushing President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business moderates and prompting him to dissolve the National Assembly.

New elections for the lower house of parliament were set in two rounds, for June 30 and July 7. Macron remains president until 2027 and in charge of foreign policy and defense, but his presidency would be weakened if the National Rally wins and takes power of the government and domestic policy.

“We need a democratic and social upsurge — if not the extreme right will take power,” French unions said in a statement Friday. “Our Republic and our democracy are in danger.”

They noted that in Europe and across the world, extreme-right leaders have passed laws detrimental to women, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color.

To prevent the National Rally party from winning the upcoming elections, left-wing parties finally agreed Friday to set aside differences over the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and form a coalition. They urged French citizens to defeat the far right.

French opinion polls suggest the National Rally — whose founder has been repeatedly convicted of racism and antisemitism — is expected to be ahead in the first round of the parliamentary elections. The party came out on top in the European elections, garnering more than 30% of the vote cast in France, almost twice as many votes as Macron’s party Renaissance.

Macron’s term is still on for three more years, and he would retain control over foreign affairs and defense regardless of the result of the French parliamentary elections.

But his presidency would be weakened if the National Rally wins, which could put its 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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