French left-wing campaigners 'relieved' but uncertain for future

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There was relief among many left-wing voters after they were projected to get the most seats in France’s lower house of parliament, but some are worried about whether the alliance will be able to stay together.

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As the first exit polls were released at the crowded offices of the Greens Party in Paris, campaigners jumped up in joy, crying and applauding over a result they had hoped for but did not expect.

The left-wing coalition the New Popular Front (NPF) was projected to gain the most seats in France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, after the far-right National Rally (RN) came first in the first round of the elections last week.

Outside the electoral parties, onlookers honked from cars and people in the streets chanted the coalition’s name “Popular Front,” which refers back to a 1936 alliance that won French legislative elections.

“I could tell you that we knew it was coming, but it’s not true, we were campaigning with a knot in our stomachs, because every day we met people that were going to be impacted by the National Rally’s programme,” Cyrielle Chatelain, the Greens Party leader in the National Assembly, told Euronews.

While several left-wing supporters and politicians told Euronews they were relieved by the results, others cautioned that the days and weeks ahead would be crucial for the alliance which came together quickly after President Emmanuel Macron called a snap election.

Despite now topping the polls, the leftist coalition does not have an absolute majority and what comes next in parliament remains uncertain.

“Our joy does not detract from the score of the National Rally, which was still large,” Annah Bikouloulou, the national secretary of the Young Greens, told Euronews.

“We are very happy to see both that there was a large mobilisation and to see this score that was symbolic. It’s a symbol that we have a number of French people who want to turn the page of Macron’s politics and want a politics of change,” she said.

She added that the next steps “would not be simple” and that there would certainly be lots of negotiations among the parties.

Lisa, a 33-year-old resident of Paris who works in communications and attended an election event for one of the leftist parties, La France Insoumise (LFI), said that she was “relieved because the risk of the National Rally (governing) was very scary”.

“We will have to see in the next days if the alliance of the New Popular Front continues and if everyone is solid and the programme can be carried out,” she said, adding that there is a “lot of pressure” and that the coalition came together very quickly.

Other left-wing voters said they were waiting to see if the coalition would be able to agree on a prime minister and govern without disintegrating.

The parties’ previous coalition, the New Ecological and Social People’s Union (Nupes), fell apart last year over differences on the Israel-Hamas war. The political parties also notably ran separate lists for the European elections.

Antoinette Guhl, a senator from Paris, told Euronews that the French president had counted on the inability of the left wing to come together when he called for a snap election.

“We had said the first surprise is the creation of the New Popular Front and the second surprise would be the victory of a Republican front,” Guhl said, referring to the effort to withdraw candidates to prevent the far-right from having a majority.

Leftist politicians say ‘Europe can count on France’

Aurélien Saintoul, an MP from LFI who was elected directly in the first round last week, told Euronews that the election showed that “Europeans can feel relieved” by the results of the election.

“I think it’s reassuring for all Europeans to say that they can count on France when it comes to defending democracy, to fight racism, protect freedom we did not cede to the siren call of the far right,” Saintoul said.

Younous Omarjee, an EU lawmaker from the same party, told Euronews that many of his fellow members of the European Parliament had written to him to express their relief about the results.

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“It’s a great relief for Europeans because if France had been governed by the far right, it would not have been the same Europe,” he said.

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