Candidates race to register for French election but one convicted of spousal assault withdraws

PARIS (AP) — Candidates were racing to register for an early parliamentary election before a Sunday evening deadline for a vote that's redrawing France's political landscape.

But a left-wing alliance newly formed to counter the surge of the far right lost 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 the European Parliament election 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. Ruffin fumed in an X post: “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 wouldn't 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," he said. “The threat is much greater than we think."

The 34-year-old Quatennens 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.

Surprise candidates include former President François Hollande, Macron's predecessor. The socialist announced on Saturday that he'll seek a legislative seat in the central rural region of Correze, citing “the danger that the extreme right represents" for his return to the electoral fray,

“The situation is serious. more than it ever has been,” he said.

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.