French left reaches deal on alliance to battle Macron

France's left-of-centre parties on Wednesday reached an alliance deal for June parliamentary polls, aiming for a strong enough showing to hinder President Emmanuel Macron's controversial reform plans.

French left reaches deal on alliance to battle Macron
A campaign poster reading in French "Melenchon, Prime Minister". (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

After talks dragged through the night past a Tuesday deadline, the Socialist Party (PS) fell in line alongside the Greens and the Communist Party (PCF) behind the hard-left France Unbowed movement (LFI), who emerged as the dominant force on the left in April’s presidential election.

“We want to elect MPs in a majority of constituencies to stop Emmanuel Macron from pursuing his unjust and brutal policies and beat the far-right,” the PS and LFI said in a joint statement.

READ ALSO What is France’s left alliance and will it work?

The alliance must still be approved by the Socialists’ National Council on Thursday, with people close to the party leadership warning against viewing the vote as a foregone conclusion.

The negotiation was “historic”, LFI European MP Manon Aubry told Europe 1 radio, offering each party autonomy within “a common policy framework”.

PS heavyweights like Fran├žois Hollande, in power just five years ago before the Socialists’ precipitous fall from grace, have made clear their opposition to the deal.

He has warned the left-wing tie-up could amount to the “disappearance” of the Socialists.

But Aubry said Wednesday that it was exactly their “important steps concerning Hollande’s legacy” that had allowed the Socialists to align with the rest of the left.

Behind the euphoria at overcoming the traditionally fragmented French left’s differences, the junior partners are eyeing how constituencies will be parcelled out between the parties, with each aiming to run on the united ticket in a maximum of “winnable” seats.

The final deal looks set to distribute around 100 constituencies to the Greens, 70 for the Socialist Party and 50 for the Communist Party.

With some Socialists refusing to stand down, former minister under Hollande Stephane Le Foll said he was ready to lead them in a separate campaign.

At least one Communist candidate, in a suburb of eastern city Lyon, has also said she will not make way for an alliance-backed replacement.

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French minister investigated after rape allegations

A junior minister in President Emmanuel Macron's government is under investigation after two allegations of rape were brought against her, French prosecutors have said.

French minister investigated after rape allegations

The allegations go back to when Chrysoula Zacharopoulou – who is now state secretary for development, Francophonie and international partnerships – worked as a gynaecologist, according to French magazine Marianne.

One complaint was lodged on May 25th and the investigation opened two days later, the prosecutors said. The second complaint was filed on June 16th.

Greece-born Zacharopoulou, 46, joined the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in May, having been a member of the European Parliament for the previous three years. She reports to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

She gained prominence in 2015 by campaigning for greater public awareness of endometriosis together with actress Julie Gayet, who this year married former French president Francois Hollande.

Zacharopoulou was strongly involved in the UN’s COVAX coronavirus vaccine rollout effort, and has spoken out in favour of women’s reproductive rights.

These are not the first rape allegations to overshadow Macron’s government and come at a time of political difficulty for the president after he failed to retain a majority in parliamentary elections.

Prosecutors investigated Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin over an allegation for rape filed in 2017. He denied any wrongdoing and prosecutors in
January asked for the case to be dropped.

Rape allegations were also made against Solidarities minister Damien Abad last month but French prosecutors have said they were not currently opening an investigation.