The National Council of the French Socialist Party ratified a coalition deal with three other left-wing parties early Friday to run as a united front in June’s parliamentary elections. A large majority (62 percent) of the council’s members voted in favour, but only after hours of sometimes tense debates.
Debate over the proposal lasted four hours, with some major party figures condemning the alliance with the hard-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed or LFI), the Greens and the Communist Party (PCF) for the parliamentary elections on June 12 and 19.
In the end, 167 members voted in favour and 101 against, with 24 abstentions.
“This is a clarifying vote,” said party chief Olivier Faure, adding that it shows that the Socialist Party belongs “on the left” and not on the side of President Emmanuel Macron.
Other key party figures, including Lille Mayor Martine Aubry, also backed the deal, despite “reservations over Europe” – specifically, a proposal to “disobey” provisions of some European Union treaties.
Negotiations with France Unbowed and the other coalition members centred not only on the programme but also on how to divvy up parliamentary seats, so that only one candidate from the coalition runs for each seat.
According to a list shared with AFP, the deal gives the Socialist Party 70 of France’s 577 parliamentary seats, while candidates from the other three parties will run for the remaining seats.
Of those 70 seats, at least 20 are seen as “winnable” for the Socialists. But some incumbent MPs will be forced to give up their spots so that another coalition candidate can run for their seat – something many Socialists see as unfair.
Former French president François Hollande and his former prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve were among those voicing the strongest opposition, with Cazeneuve going as far as quitting the party rather than joining forces with France Unbowed’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former Socialist himself turned fierce antagonist of the party.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist candidate in this year’s presidential elections, said she did not want to get in the way of a deal that could help combat “environmental and social regression”, while nevertheless criticising a program that she said “does not include the necessary guarantees on NATO, Europe, or defending secularism”.