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Candidates race into France’s snap legislative poll but one convicted for spousal assault withdraws

PARIS — Candidates were racing to register before a Sunday evening deadline in snap parliamentary elections that are redrawing France’s political landscape, with a left-wing alliance newly formed to counter the surge of the far right losing, in the final hours, a prospective lawmaker previously convicted for spousal assault.

Adrien Quatennens announced the withdrawal of his candidacy that had opened cracks in the fledgling New Popular Front. The uneasy coalition of parties from the far-left to the center-left is campaigning together against the prospect that the two-round June 30 and July 7 election could produce France’s first far-right government since the Nazi occupation.

President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the National Assembly, parliament’s lower house, in a shock response to a humbling defeat by the far right in European elections on June 9.

Quatennens had previously been a lawmaker with the hard-left France Unbowed party. Despite being handed a suspended four-month jail term in 2022 for spousal assault, Quatennens was included among 230 people that France Unbowed first put forward as election candidates with the New Popular Front, immediately testing the alliance’s unity.

François Ruffin, another outgoing left-wing lawmaker who is standing again, alleged that Quatennens was selected over other prospective candidates because of his loyalty to France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. In a tweet, Ruffin fumed: “You prefer a man who hits his wife, perpetrator of domestic violence, to comrades who have the impudence to have a disagreement with the great leader.”

The pressure led Quatennens to announce Sunday that he would not stand, saying he didn’t want his candidacy to harm the New Popular Front and its chances of staving off the far right.

“In under three weeks, this beautiful country … could be governed by the fascists for the first time since World War II,” Quatennens said. “The threat is much greater than we think.”

The 34-year-old again expressed remorse for what he described as “this slap” aimed at his now ex-wife before their divorce, saying: “I immediately regretted it.”

Candidates had until 6 p.m. Sunday to register and have been scrambling to get the paperwork together and launch their campaigns.

Macron is gambling that the early legislative vote will see his centrist party rebound from its crushing defeat by the far-right National Rally in the election for the European Parliament and that voters who have drifted to the far right will balk at the prospect of it taking power in France.

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