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French President Macron urges moderate politicians to regroup to defeat far right in elections


PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron called Wednesday for moderate politicians from the left and the right to regroup to defeat the far right in general elections.

Macron, a pro-business centrist, said he wants “men and women of good will who were able to say ‘no’ to extremes to join together to be able to build a joint project” for the country.

Macron addressed French voters Wednesday for the first time since he called for a snap national election following a crushing defeat of his party by the far right in the European parliamentary vote.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

PARIS (AP) — President Emmanuel Macron is addressing French voters Wednesday for the first time since he called for a snap national election following a crushing defeat of his party by the far-right in the European vote.

Macron is expected to explain his shocking decision to dissolve the National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament, that has triggered an early legislative election to take place three weeks after the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen triumphed at the election for the European Union Parliament.

On Sunday, Macron said he decided to call an early vote because he could not ignore the new political reality after his pro-European party was handed a chastening defeat and garnered less than half the support of the National Rally with its star leader, Jordan Bardella.

Macron, who has three years left of his second presidential term, hopes voters will band together to contain the far right in national elections in a way they didn’t in European ones.

But Sunday’s decision to dissolve parliament and send to the polls voters who just expressed their discontent with Macron’s politics was a risky move that could result in the French far-right leading a government for the first time since World War II.

Potential alliances and France's two-round voting system in national elections make the outcome of the vote highly uncertain.

Opposition parties on the left and right have been scrambling to form alliances and field candidates in the early legislative balloting that will take place on June 30 and July 7.

While sharp differences between parties remain on either side of the political spectrum, prominent figures calling for a united front appear to have one thing in common: They don’t want to cooperate with Macron.

Despite their divisions, left-wing parties agreed late Monday to form an alliance that includes the Greens, the Socialists, the Communists and the far-left France Unbowed of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen is working to consolidate power on the right in efforts to translate the European triumph into a national win and come closer to claiming power. The far-right party, with a history of racism and xenophobia, is expected to win the most French seats in the European Parliament, potentially as many as 30 of France’s 81.