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In an attempt to block the unprecedented rise of the far right to power in France, 218 candidates qualified for the second round of the legislative elections, scheduled for next Sunday (7), withdrew from disputes involving three or more candidates.

Of the 218 withdrawals, 131 are from the left, led by the New Popular Front (NFP), and 82 from President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition, Juntos (Ensemble, in French).

The French political system divides the country into 577 electoral districts, each of which is represented by just one deputy. To be elected, a deputy must win a simple majority (50% + 1 vote) in the first round or be the most voted (proportionally) in a second round contested not only by two candidates, but by the number of candidates who achieve a minimum of 12.5% ​​of the votes.

This peculiarity of French politics creates the possibility of so-called triangular disputes — when there are three candidates in the 2nd round.

To prevent the rise to power of the National Rally (RN), a far-right party led by Marine Le Pen and her protégé, Jordan Bardella, the parties in the democratic camp intend to isolate the RN candidates in a strategy known in France as the “cordon sanitaire”.

It has already been used in other elections in which the far right reached the second round with a chance of victory, such as in 2002, when the right-wing candidate Jacques Chirac, from the Republicans, received support from center and left-wing parties to defeat Jean-Marie Le Pen, from the then National Front.

Of the 577 seats up for grabs, 306 would go to a second round in a triangular dispute. However, after the call for the sanitary cordon, only 100 disputes remained in this format until 6 pm local time, the deadline given to candidates to maintain or not their registrations.

Right after the end of the first round, last Sunday (30), the left anticipated and was very clear: it would withdraw the candidacies in all electoral districts where the RN came in first place, and a candidate from the New Popular Front came in third (or fourth). The same would apply to the electoral districts in which an RN candidate came in second place, but maintaining the NFP candidate could be detrimental.

President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition, for its part, has not been as firm in consolidating the cordon sanitaire. While some have called for a systematic withdrawal in constituencies where an NFP candidate is in a more favourable position, others have spoken of a case-by-case choice.

In constituencies where the best-placed candidate is part of France Insoumise, the party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, classified by Macron as far left, the recommendation was not to withdraw the Juntos candidacy.


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