Far-right leader Bardella says he needs absolute majority to govern France effectively

National Rally party leading opinion polls ahead of snap election called by Emmanuel Macron

Jordan Bardella, the National Rally leader, during a visit to a farm in Chuelles, south of Paris. Photograph: Thibault Camus/AP

The leader of France’s far-right National Rally (RN), Jordan Bardella, appealed to voters on Tuesday to hand his party an absolute majority in upcoming parliamentary elections so that it is able to govern effectively.

Mr Bardella’s Eurosceptic, anti-immigration party has its first real chance of winning national power in the June 30th and July 7th ballots. Opinion polls have consistently placed the RN first since French president Emmanuel Macron’s shock decision this month to dissolve parliament.

But pollsters who have attempted the tricky exercise of making a second-round forecast for France's 577 constituencies see the RN failing to secure the absolute majority that would guarantee its ability to pass laws without allies.

“I’m not going to sell to the French reforms that I cannot carry out. I’m telling them that in order to act, I need an absolute majority,” Mr Bardella told CNews TV.

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He had the same message for Le Parisien newspaper, urging voters to rally behind him and Marine Le Pen, the RN's former leader and its candidate in France's next presidential election due in 2027.

“To govern, I need an absolute majority,” he said, hinting that the RN might turn down any offer to form a government if it does not reach the 289-seat threshold along with close allies.

"Who can believe that we would be able to change the daily lives of the French by cohabitation with a relative majority? No one. I say to the French: to try us, we need an absolute majority."

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Mr Bardella (28), has watered down some of his party’s pledges amid investors’ concerns about their impact on the public finances, saying an RN government would not immediately cut VAT on a list of 100 essential goods.

But in his comments to Le Parisien he also confirmed costly plans to quickly slash VAT on petrol, heating fuel, electricity and gas to 5.5 per cent from 20 per cent, saying he wanted that to be his first move as prime minister.

"If I run the country without an absolute majority, I won't be able to cut VAT on fuel and on gas ... I won't be able to drastically cut immigration," he told Le Parisien.

The RN is yet to detail its economic policies, but Mr Bardella said some of its plans would be financed by scrapping tax breaks. “There is a tax break for shipping firms that costs the state €5 billion and I want to end this tax break,” he said.

Members of the French football team, many of whom come from immigrant backgrounds, have spoken out about the country's upcoming election. Video: David Dunne

Mr Bardella criticised star footballer Kylian Mbappe on Tuesday for his call on the youth to vote against the “extremes” in parliamentary elections this month.

“I have a lot of respect for our footballers, whether Marcus Thuram or Kylian Mbappe, who are icons of football and icons for youth ... But we must respect the French, we must respect everyone’s vote,” Mr Bardella told CNews TV.

“When you’re lucky enough to have a very, very big salary, when you are a multi-millionaire ... then I’m a little embarrassed to see these athletes ... give lessons to people who can no longer make ends meet, who no longer feel safe, who do not have the chance to live in neighborhoods overprotected by security agents,” he said.

France captain Mbappe, who is hugely popular, said on Sunday during a press conference on the eve of France’s opening match at Euro 2024 that “the extremes are knocking at the doors of power”.

Forward Marcus Thuram had earlier urged people to “fight daily” to prevent RN from gaining power.

Mbappe did not name the RN but said he supported the same values and position as Thuram.

“Kylian Mbappe is against extreme views and against ideas that divide people. I want to be proud to represent France, I don’t want to represent a country that doesn’t correspond to my values, or our values,” Mbappe said.

That call resonated with some youths in Mbappe’s old neighbourhood, an underprivileged Paris suburb. – Reuters

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