French left-wing alliance on brink of collapse over Middle East conflict
France’s left-wing alliance against President Emmanuel Macron and his supporters was close to breakup Wednesday, with tensions erupting over responses to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Oct 18, 2023
The Socialist Party (PS) – a heavyweight party of government just a few years ago but now a rump of its former self – voted overnight to “suspend” participation in the NUPES alliance with hard-left France Unbowed (LFI), Greens and Communists.
Its board accused LFI of “constantly stoking conflict” within the alliance, after former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and his leadership circle refused to call Hamas’s bloody October 7 assault on Israel a “terrorist” attack.
The largest left-wing party in France‘s 577-seat parliament, with 74 MPs, LFI’s hard-charging style of total opposition to Macron and sometimes controversial stunts and remarks has often left its allies grinding their teeth.
Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure “is breaking up NUPES” over “a personal issue with me about Israel (and) Palestine,” Melenchon wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday morning in a message that later appeared to have been deleted.
Faure had earlier told Socialist leaders that Melenchon “had been a unifying force, but today he has become an obstacle”, calling for “radical change in the way we think about uniting” the left.
Yannick Jadot, former Greens presidential candidate, said that “we have to suspend our ties with LFI so long as they haven’t strongly clarified their basic values”.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Tuesday LFI lawmaker Daniele Obono should face a criminal investigation on suspicion of justifying terrorism after she described Hamas as a “resistance” movement.
NUPES was formed last year after Macron failed to secure a majority in parliament despite being re-elected to the presidency.
But tensions quickly became apparent, including over an admission of domestic violence by a close Melenchon supporter, strategy to oppose the government’s widely-resented pension reforms, the war in Ukraine and this summer’s riots.
The Communist Party already had one foot out of the door, voting a resolution Sunday that said NUPES was at an “impasse” and calling for a “new type of union” on the left.
Some voices within the PS and Greens have sought to keep the alliance alive, echoing arguments from LFI that the left has little chance of success if it does not stand together.
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