(Paris) The French left called on Monday for a “popular front” the day after President Emmanuel Macron’s shock decision to dissolve the Assembly and call legislative elections at the end of June in the face of the victory of the far right in the European elections, a political poker move which plunges a pillar country of the European Union into uncertainty.

Both the victory of the far right and the dissolution that followed also brought thousands of people into the streets on Monday evening, particularly in Paris where the vast and emblematic Place de la République was packed with people, with many young people saying their refusal to see the far right in power.

Three weeks of blitzkrieg campaigning opened before the first round of legislative elections on June 30 and then the second on July 7, on the eve of the Paris Olympic Games (July 26-August 11), and the political class spent its day in huddles and other secret or highly publicized meetings.

On Monday evening, the various components of the left, deeply divided, took a first step towards unity, by announcing that they wanted to agree on “single candidates” from the first round, and wished to “build an alternative to Emmanuel Macron and combat the racist project of the extreme right.”

“We call for the constitution of a new popular front bringing together in an unprecedented form all the humanist, union, associative and citizen left forces,” wrote the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, ecologists and La France insoumise (radical left ), in a press release.

To everyone’s surprise, Mr. Macron drew the constitutional weapon of dissolution on Sunday evening after the triumph in the European elections of the National Rally (RN, far right), which collected twice as many votes as the presidential Renaissance party (31, 36% versus 14.60%).

France is now plunged into a zone of turbulence, unfolding “an extraordinarily uncertain scenario” underlined Brice Teinturier, deputy director general of the Ipsos institute.  

The head of state will enter the campaign fully on Tuesday, holding a press conference in the afternoon.

Two first polls put the RN in the lead, with 33/34% of voting intentions, compared to 22/23% for the united left and 18/19% for the presidential camp.

“I have confidence in the people,” the French head of state insisted on Monday as three weeks of a tense campaign began.

On Monday evening, thousands demonstrated in the streets of several cities in France, and large gatherings are expected, at the call of the left and the unions, this weekend.  

“The prospect of having a far-right prime minister in three weeks terrifies me,” says Alice, a 24-year-old student in Paris.

In Rennes (west), Marie, a 69-year-old retiree, confides that “what happened yesterday was a shock”. “We don’t want to stay alone, we needed to see what the capacity was to mobilize against this,” she explains.

In France, where the far right obtained one of the highest scores in the EU on Sunday, the RN has never been so close to power and its young leader Jordan Bardella, 28, who led the party list to the European, is already applying for the position of Prime Minister in the event of victory.

The historic leader of the RN, Marine Le Pen, who for her part is aiming for the presidential election, assured Monday evening that in the event of the party’s victory in the legislative elections, Jordan Bardella was destined to become prime minister.

“For months we have been working with Jordan Bardella as part of an executive couple with the aim of best fulfilling the functions that the French would entrust to us. Me towards the Presidency of the Republic, him towards Matignon, there is no reason to change that,” argued Ms. Le Pen, who was in the second round of the last two presidential elections against Mr. Macron.

Mr. Bardella, recognizing that it was “difficult to win alone,” “reached out” to the Republicans (LR, right), claiming to have had “discussions” with some of their executives.

Surprised by the dissolution, the presidential camp is trying to put itself in battle order. “There was another way,” lamented outgoing President of the National Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet.    

According to his entourage, the president assumes “the risk” of a new “anti-Macron referendum”, but hopes that voters will not use the legislative elections as a “release”.

According to a poll, some 61% of French people approve of Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to dissolve the lower house.