French election candidates withdraw in bid to block far right

French voters are waiting to see the full line-up for the second round of parliamentary elections, as scores of candidates stood aside in order to help defeat the far-right National Rally (RN).

Parties have until 18:00 (17:00 BST) Tuesday evening to register contenders for Sunday.

Only then will it be clear how many from the left and centre have abandoned the race in the hope of unifying the anti-RN vote.

Last Sunday’s first round produced a big victory for the party of Marine Le Pen, which – with allies – won around 33% of the vote.

A broad left-wing alliance came second, and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrists third.

But Ms Le Pen’s chances of winning an outright majority in the 577-seat National Assembly have been dented by the blocking tactics of her party’s enemies.

In more than half of constituencies – around 300 – three candidates qualified from the first round of voting (nearly everywhere else it was just two).

If in these constituencies one of the two non-RN runners stands aside, this increases the chances of the RN candidate being defeated.

By midday Tuesday around 200 candidates from the left and centre were understood to have taken the step.

The left-wing New Popular Front (NPF) – which comprises everyone from centre-left social democrats to far-left anti-capitalists – issued instructions to all of its third-placed candidates to step down and let a centrist reap the anti-RN vote.



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