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Eric Ciotti expelled from France's conservative party over bid to ally with far right

French right-wing Les Republicains (LR) leader Eric Ciotti at the National Assembly in Paris, Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
French right-wing Les Republicains (LR) leader Eric Ciotti at the National Assembly in Paris, Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Copyright David Niviere, Pool via AP
Copyright David Niviere, Pool via AP
By Sophia KhatsenkovaAlice Tidey
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Eric Ciotti has refused to resign, warning there may be "legal consequences" to his party's unanimous decision.

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Éric Ciotti, leader of France's The Republicans (LR), was on Wednesday "unanimously" expelled from the traditional right-wing party he has helmed for a year and a half over his bid to ally with the far right ahead of snap legislative elections.

"We have just voted unanimously to exclude Éric Ciotti from our political family. He is no longer a member of the Republicans," the party said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Ciotti's announcement on Tuesday that he wanted to form an alliance with the far-right National Rally (RN) took much of his party by surprise and sparked an uproar.

The interim governance of the party will be handled by Annie Genevard, the secretary general of the Republicans and François-Xavier Bellamy, MEP and former lead candidate for the 2024 EU elections.

But Ciotti, 58, contested the vote and its results, arguing that "none of the decisions taken at this meeting have any legal consequences. They may have criminal consequences.

"I am and will remain the president of our political party, elected by our members," he added on X.

Earlier in the day, the former leader shut down the party’s headquarters in Paris, explaining the meeting to expel him went against his party's rules.

“I have to guarantee the safety of the staff. Furthermore, no meeting was ever planned at headquarters this afternoon,” he argued on social media.

Ciotti's announcement also triggered indignation among other political parties. Earlier on Wednesday, French President Macron didn't mince words on the issue, stating that Ciotti "will have to clarify" his decision after making a "pact with the devil."

Macron announced snap elections on Sunday after his party was crushed by the RN which gathered over 31% of the vote, more than double the tally secured by the president's centrist Renaissance party.

The Republicans, meanwhile, finished fifth with just 7.2% of ballots and crucially behind the left-wing Socialist and radical left-wing France Unbowed (LFI) parties.

Marine le Pen, the RN's former leader and president of its group in the national assembly, had hailed Ciotti's announcement as a “courageous decision”.

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