France's left-wing parties discuss possible parliamentary coalition

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By Lauren Chadwick  with AFP
France's leftist movement La France Insoumise (LFI) party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon arrives to his party's headquarters
France's leftist movement La France Insoumise (LFI) party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon arrives to his party's headquarters   -  Copyright  THOMAS COEX/AFP

France's left-wing parties are negotiating to form an alliance ahead of the country's June parliamentary elections after none of their candidates made the second round of the presidential election.

Only one leftist candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, came close to qualifying for the runoff election. His party is now leading the negotiations, with talks coming down to the wire this weekend.

In an interview with a weekly newspaper, Mélenchon said that the left needed to leave behind "a permanent culture of defeat", adding that some parties were dogged by internal problems. But he said he was optimistic about finding a potential agreement between parties.

Mélenchon received nearly 22% of the vote in the first round, just over a point shy of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen who faced incumbent Macron last week in the runoff.

All of the other left-wing candidates, including the Greens, the Socialists and the Communist Party received under 5% of the vote share.

Greens party secretary Julien Bayou told broadcaster France 2 said he hoped there would be an agreement.

"We really have to learn the lessons of what happened on April 24: Emmanuel Macron was re-elected, but we cannot condemn ourselves to five years of climate inaction, five years of social damage," he said.

But the Socialist party suspended negotiations on Friday, stating that there needed to be a "shared logic" with parties being treated equally.

Previous attempts had been made to unite the left around a single candidate, including a grassroots effort to run a primary between the main left-wing candidates to prevent a repeat of the 2017 Macron/Le Pen face-off.

Instead, there were six candidates from leftist parties in the first round of the election ranging from the centre-left Socialists to the hard-left Workers' Struggle party.

Following the first round of the election, Mélenchon launched himself into the legislative campaign.

He has called on voters to "elect him" prime minister, a role appointed by the French president. It has been typically based on the majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

The last time a prime minister was from a different party than the president was in 1997, after which the presidential terms were changed to prevent such an occurrence.