French hard-left political based, activists and local politicians, are unhappy with July 7 election results and blame the party and its national leaders for the defeat. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

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National Rally base blames leaders for election defeat


Local members of the hard-right National Rally are unhappy with the party’s July 7 election results, with the grassroots reportedly blaming its national leaders for the defeat.

Speaking to news outlet Le Monde and referring to the party’s controversial candidates, RN MP Bruno Bilde said: “We can’t go on like this. We need to reassure. We’ve had some extremely divisive, and sometimes even worrying, profiles.

“The management is going to have to get to grips with this problem right away, which has parasitized the entire campaign, and especially the period between the two rounds.”

During the campaign, it was revealed that the RN chose candidates deemed unfit to run and controversial individuals who had made outrageous comments.

Following the defeat on July 7, Gille Penelle general manager of the RN and architect of its failed “Matignon Plan” for snap elections resigned from the party.

Although the RN refused to link Pennelle’s departure to the poor electoral result, he was in charge of finding and recruiting 577 candidates for the ballot.

According to MEP Philippe Olivier, the executive member of the party, it was “planned” for Penelle to leave after he was elected an MEP in June.

Nevertheless, the candidacy process put a dent into the RN campaign and may have contributed to its defeat, many felt.

That was not the only issue. Jordan Bardella, the President of RN had controversially said on June 24 that bi-national French citizens would be excluded from “key government jobs” if the party were to win the upcoming snap general election. That caused considerable criticism from other parties.

Louis Aliot, vice-president of the party and mayor of South-West city Perpignan urged the party to change its ways.

“We can win, as I did in Perpignan, but it requires effort on our part. We’ll have to examine our consciences,” he said on July 8.

Bardella said he recognised errors had happened

“Mistakes are always made, and I’ve made them. I accept my share of responsibility both for the victory in the European elections and for yesterday’s defeat,” he said on July 9.

With that, Bardella appeared to be trying to redeem his leadership, echoing RN de facto leader Marine Le Pen’s public stance on July 8.

“The progress made in two years is incredible and makes our short-term victory inevitable. It also invites us to take stock of what can undoubtedly be improved in the future,” she said on X.

RN leaders had hoped to curb discontent by presenting a positive outlook regarding the results, acknowledging the party’s consistent progression since 2017.

The party went from getting 88 MPs elected in 2022 to 143, with RN and its allies garnering more than 10 million votes in the second round of the French elections.

“The tide is rising. It didn’t rise high enough this time, but it’s still rising, and as a result, our victory is only deferred,” Le Pen said on the evening of July 7.

She, Bardella and the RN’s top executives were due to meet on July 8 to analyze the results of the legislative elections, in which the party came third.

The internal challenges came amid ongoing suspicions of alleged illegal financing of its presidential campaign in 2022.