Scholz Says He Offers Daily Support to Macron Amid Rise of French Right-Wing

The German chancellor has told supporters that he wants to prevent “a populist government” gaining power in France

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stated that he texts French President Emmanuel Macron every day to show his support and discuss the “disheartening” popularity of the right-wing National Rally party.

Jordan Bardella’s National Rally (RN) significantly outperformed Macron’s centrist Ensemble bloc in the first round of parliamentary elections in France over the weekend. The National Rally, previously led by Marine Le Pen, garnered 33% of the vote, ahead of the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) with 28%, and Ensemble with 20%.

Addressing his SPD party’s summer festival in Berlin on Wednesday, Scholz mentioned that he sends daily messages of encouragement to Macron, and that they “discuss the situation, which is indeed quite disheartening,” according to Germany’s dpa news agency.

Scholz further added that he will work “to prevent the French, whom I love and respect, and the country that means so much to me, from having a government led by a right-wing populist party.”

Macron initiated early parliamentary elections last month after the RN secured 30 of France’s 81 seats in the European Parliament. However, a second round of parliamentary elections will be held this weekend, and the right-wing party might not secure an absolute majority. 

According to France’s electoral system, a candidate must acquire more than 50% of the vote to claim a seat in the first round. The RN obtained 37 out of the French legislature’s 577 seats in the initial vote, while Ensemble secured only two. If no candidate surpasses the 50% threshold, any contender with 12.5% of the vote or more advances to the second round runoff.

Prior to this runoff, over 220 third-place candidates have withdrawn from their races to prevent splitting the anti-RN vote and to bolster the second-place challengers most likely to defeat the right-wingers. These withdrawals have spanned ideological lines, with the NPF instructing candidates in certain districts to make way for pro-Macron MPs, and the centrists withdrawing from one race – in the city of Amiens – to enhance the chances of self-described “radical reformist” Francois Ruffin.

Bardella, who would assume the role of France’s prime minister if the RN secured an absolute majority, has denounced this “alliance of dishonour” between former political adversaries. 

RN leaders have repeatedly asserted that they will only form a government if they win an outright majority. Nevertheless, in an interview with French radio on Tuesday, Le Pen stated that her party would consider an alliance with independent MPs and lawmakers from the conservative Republicans party, who captured around 10% of the vote in the first round.

The RN needs to win 289 seats to hold an absolute majority. Before the wave of withdrawals, French media predicted that the party would secure between 230 and 280 seats in the second round.