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EU elections: Multiple French opposition parties file complaint over Macron interview

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks in Muenster, Germany, Tuesday May 28, 2024.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks in Muenster, Germany, Tuesday May 28, 2024. Copyright Jana Rodenbusch/Pool Photo via AP
Copyright Jana Rodenbusch/Pool Photo via AP
By Alice Tidey
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Macron's centrist party, Renaissance, is projected to come a distant second in this week's European elections.

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Multiple French political parties said on Monday they would refer President Emmanuel Macron to the national media regulator over a prime-time televised interview he plans to hold just days before the European elections in which his party is expected to take a beating.

At least three parties – the radical left-wing France Unbowed (LFI), the left-wing Socialist Party (PS) and the right-wing Les Républicains (LR) – have said they will ask the ARCOM media regulator to decide whether Macron’s interview should be deducted from the speaking time of his party’s lead candidate for the June 6-9 elections.

Macron's centrist party, Renaissance, is being shepherded through this election by Valérie Hayer and is currently forecast to come a very distant second to the far-right National Rally (RN) party. According to the Euronews Poll Centre, Renaissance should secure 16.6 per cent of the vote while RN is on track to get 31.5 per cent. 

The Elysée announced on Sunday evening that Macron will be interviewed live at 20:00 CET by the main two TV channels, TF1 and France 2, on Thursday following D-Day commemorations and address topics including the situation in Ukraine and Gaza as well as the European elections.

'It's awkward'

For Raphael Glucksmann, the PS’ lead candidate, Macron’s intervention, scheduled three days before ballots open across France to elect the country’s 81 members of the European Parliament, amounts to “electoral propaganda".

“If he were just talking about the D-Day and 80th anniversary commemorations and the importance of this in our history, I don't see any problem with that, obviously. But they're already announcing that he's going to talk about the international situation and the European elections,“ Glucksmann told France Inter radio on Monday morning

“But with three days to go to the polls, in which European country could this happen? In none of our neighbouring countries would the head of state summon all the media to make election propaganda, three days before the election,” he added.

Manon Aubry, who heads the electoral list for LFI, similarly told RTL that “it’s awkward, really, that just before the end of a campaign for the European elections, he's going to get prime time on TF1 and France 2".

“So we're going to take the matter to ARCOM to ask for his airtime to be deducted from Valérie Hayer's campaign time. I believe that in a democracy, there is no official candidacy, so the rules must be respected,” she said.

The president of the LR party has, meanwhile, sent a letter to the regulator in which he wrote that “the situation is very serious", according to Le Figaro newspaper, which had access to the correspondence.

"Never before in an election campaign has the media been so unbalanced in favour of the current executive and to the detriment of the opposition," he added.

The topics Macron will address "have a direct link with the European elections on 9 June and Mr Emmanuel Macron's intervention cannot be regarded as the usual action of a President of the Republic", he wrote

"He must therefore be considered as a supporter of a list," he went on, adding: “I would be very grateful if you could deduct from the speaking time of the list led by Ms Valérie Hayer, all of the speaking time given by Mr Emmanuel Macron during his appearance." 

'A wind of panic'

Renaissance is currently struggling to keep its second position in the polls, having fallen three percentage points over the last month, with the PS closing in and RN growing its lead.

To stem the hemorrhage, Macron's number 2, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, last week took part in a prime-time televised debate against Jordan Bardella, who is helming the RN’s list. The one-on-one was blasted as undemocratic by other parties who were not invited to take part but also confused some commentators as it sidelined Hayer, Renaissance’s lead candidate.

Attal also on Monday interrupted a one-on-one Radio France interview with Hayer recorded in front of a large audience filled with young voters, arguing he wanted to “encourage Valérie”.

His short intervention was quickly decried by opposition parties, with Ciotti describing it on X as “humiliating” for Hayer and indicative of “a wind of panic” running through the centrist formation ahead of the Europe-wide plebiscite.

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