By Elizabeth Pineau and Tassilo Hummel (Reuters)

PARIS, June 11 (Reuters) – The leader of France’s conservative Republicans on Tuesday called for an alliance between his party’s candidates and the far-right National Rally in a snap parliamentary election – a political shift that will have wide repercussions.

“We say the same things so let’s stop making up imagined opposition”, Eric Ciotti told TF1 television. “This is what the vast majority of our voters want. They tell us ‘reach a deal’.”

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) is widely expected to emerge as the strongest force after President Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly called snap elections for June 30 and July 7, although it may fall short of an absolute majority.

The RN was therefore looking for allies to secure control of parliament and it immediately applauded Ciotti’s comment. But this in turn could well mean his party is likely to implode.

Ciotti’s comments signified that a decades-old consensus in France’s political establishment to join forces to keep the far right from the power was blowing up.

The Republicans (LR), and its previous versions – all heirs of Charles de Gaulle and Jacques Chirac’s parties – were in power for large chunks of France’s modern political history.

But LR is a shadow of its former self, with far fewer lawmakers, and had already lost key members to Macron’s centrist party and the far right.

Other mainstream parties to the left and right have also been weaker since Macron was first elected president in 2017 on a neither-left-nor right platform with an upstart party that wanted to reshape France’s political landscape.

Philippe Gosselin, an LR lawmaker, told Reuters he would leave LR over Ciotti’s comments and that LR lawmakers would create a new group.

Olivier Marleix, who heads the LR group of the lower house of parliament, said on X: “What Eric Ciotti is saying is valid only for himself, he must leave the leadership of Les Republicains.”

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