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Accusations of far-right ‘cosying’ intensify after Macron-Meloni meet

Accusations of cosying up to the far-right are flying in France after Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National backed the Left’s no-confidence motion in the government and President Emmanuel Macron met with Italy’s controversial new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni

By: EBR - Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2022

While such accusations are not new, they have become louder and more frequent following Meloni and Macron’s quiet meeting in Rome on Sunday (23 October), which made Macron the first foreign leader to have met the new Italian leader.
While such accusations are not new, they have become louder and more frequent following Meloni and Macron’s quiet meeting in Rome on Sunday (23 October), which made Macron the first foreign leader to have met the new Italian leader.

by Davide Basso

Accusations of cosying up to the far-right are flying in France after Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National backed the Left’s no-confidence motion in the government on Monday and President Emmanuel Macron met with Italy’s controversial new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni.

While such accusations are not new, they have become louder and more frequent following Meloni and Macron’s quiet meeting in Rome on Sunday (23 October), which made Macron the first foreign leader to have met the new Italian leader.

Perhaps hoping it would go unnoticed, the Elysee communication channels did not draw attention to the meeting – however, the Left was quick to condemn the rendezvous.

While Senate Vice-President Laurence Rossignol from the Socialist Party condemned the ‘dangerous normalisation’ of the far-right, La France Insoumise (LFI) leader Mathilde Panot called Macron “irresponsible”.

Green lawmaker Sandrine Rousseau added to the discussion, calling out “Macron’s incredible complacency with fascism and the far-right.” The president should have “marked his disapproval” of Meloni’s political position, she added.

Defending Macron’s meeting

But Macron’s meeting was defended by the presidential majority in parliament.

“People, and especially the left, should stop giving lessons to the President of the Republic,” Renew MEP and former European affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau said on Tuesday morning (25 October).

Macron is only fulfilling “his role as head of state” when he is meeting Meloni, the MEP said, emphasising that the meeting was with the head of a democratically elected government of a neighbouring country.

Attacking the Left

Though the vote of no-confidence presented by the left-wing coalition, NUPES, did not gain enough traction to topple the government on Monday (24 October), Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) joined the motion.

Despite politicians, including Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, expressing worries about an emerging “unholy alliance”, the president of the Socialist group Boris Vallaud rejected banding with the far-right, noting that “everything separates us”.

Raquel Garrido of NUPES’ LFI said she was “happy that the RN recognises NUPES leadership” and LFI founder Jean-Luc Melenchon said he regretted that “50 votes were missing to eject the government” in a Tweet.

With this statement, Melenchon drew the wrath of many centrists, including Stephane Sejourne, the newly elected secretary general of Renaissance and leader of Renew MEPs in the European Parliament.

“We now know with whom they are ‘ready to take over’ and at what price”, said Sejourne, who said he worries about the birth of a “coalition of extremes”.

Insider fighting on the left

Since Monday evening, the left has been defending itself against accusations of cosying up to the far right.

Like many other NUPES members, socialist Jerome Guedj blamed Renaissance deputies in the majority for voting in favour of “two RN vice-presidents of the Assembly”, which he says is “concrete support” for the far-right party.

But criticisms were also levelled from within the left.

Among others, Helene Geoffroy, Socialist Party executive, expressed her concern that “instead of being appalled by the National Rally’s lethal support of [their] motion, La France Insoumise leaders seemed to be satisfied with it.”

The opponents of the left condemn this alleged convergence of struggles and accuse NUPES of watering down their motion, notably by removing the positive references to immigration, to make it “votable” by the far-right party.

Though this was revealed by several media outlets like Le Figaro and Le Parisien, NUPES leaders denied this, in comments to HuffPost.

The heated exchanges continued when the government faced question time in the Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

LFI deputy Thomas Portes accused Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin of remaining silent regarding several incidents in which the perpetrators were allegedly far-right activists.

Darmanin refuted these accusations, telling the MP that “when you condemn the far right, you don’t accept its votes”, thus provoking indignation on the left benches.

“You only survive thanks to the opposition with the far right”, he told NUPES.

Rassemblement National has remained notably quiet on the heated clashes.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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