Macron’s party announces name change and centrist alliance

French President Emmanuel Macron's party has announced a name change and an alliance with two other centrist groups ahead of the parliamentary elections in June.

Macron's party announces name change and centrist alliance
French centre-right party MoDem president speaks next to LREM party's head Stanislas Guerini during a press conference (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

Stanislas Guerini, the delegate general of LREM (La République en marche), announced at a press conference on Thursday that LREM would be changing its name. The presidential party will now be called “Renaissance.”

During the conference in Paris, Guerini said that the new name will allow the six-year-old political party to “rebuild” and “continue expanding its political movement.” Guerini explained that the party will “always make the choice of enlightenment against obscurantism.”

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This is not the first time the party has changed its name.

When it was formed as a grassroots group in 2016 it was called En marche ! (on the march), but later dropped the exclamation mark.

After Emmanuel Macron won the presidency in 2017, the party added ‘La République’ to the name, becoming La République en marche (The republic on the march) commonly shortened to LREM.

Although the party has worked hard to grow as an organisation, it is still widely considered ‘Macron’s party’ and supporters are commonly known simply as macronistes

The latest iteration of the party comes as Macron has won a second term as president, but faces a tough battle to win a majority in the parliamentary elections in June.

The party is also facing the prospect of having to fight the 2027 election with a new candidate – in France presidents can only have two consecutive terms.

Guerini spoke at a joint press conference with Richard Ferrand, the LREM president in the French parliament, François Bayrou of the ‘MoDem’ party which currently forms a group with LREM and Edouard Philippe of the ‘Horizons’ party.

Philippe, currently mayor of Le Havre, is Macron’s former prime minister and is widely believed to be planning his own bid for the presidency in 2027. He formed the Horizons party last year, with the declared intention of consolidating the centre group in French politics.

The three announced that they will be creating a federation called “Ensemble” to bring together these three parties in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The announcement comes after the four major leftist parties (the far-left La France Insoumise, the Greens, the centre-left Parti Socialiste and the Communists) their own alliance in order to fight the parliamentary elections. 

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The centrist alliance essentially consolidates votes in the parliamentary elections into ‘blocks’ of leftist of centrist voters. The right – far-right Rassemblement National under Marine Le Pen, centre-right Les Républicains and Eric Zemmour’s extreme right block – has no agreement.

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France and Netherlands ink deal on Caribbean ‘footrace frontier’

France and the Netherlands have signed a historic accord demarcating the border between the two countries on the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean.

France and Netherlands ink deal on Caribbean 'footrace frontier'

Around 400 years ago, two groups of runners — one Dutch, one French — are said to have set off from the same point on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin to trace the border between their nations.

Starting from a bay on the east coast and running in opposite directions, the runners in 1648 eventually met on the west coast of the island, with a straight line between the two points forming the international border ever since.

According to the legend, the Gallic runners were faster, handing France by far the larger share of the roughly 90-square-kilometre (35-square-mile) tropical paradise, which they called Saint Martin.

The Netherlands took the southern part, which they named Sint Maarten, with the athletic feat and the peaceful coexistence of the two colonial powers leading to the territory being dubbed the “friendly island”.

The agreement was signed for France on Friday by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and for the Netherlands by Silveria E. Jacobs, prime minister of the autonomous government of Sint Maarten.

“This historic agreement will help facilitate the process of rebuilding the island, which was severely affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017,” the French interior ministry said in a statement.

The text of the agreement “preserves the principle of free movement of goods and persons established by the Concordia accords of March 23, 1648”.

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The agreement also “establishes a joint monitoring commission charged with monitoring and maintaining the border” which had been disputed at its eastern end.

“It illustrates the quality of the friendly relations between France and the Netherlands, eager to reinforce their trusting cooperation on the island of Saint Martin,” it said.

It stressed “the shared desire of the territorial council of Saint Martin and the autonomous government of Sint Maarten to continue to develop their close ties and their joint projects of cross-border cooperation,” it said.

Darmanin is due to travel to Saint Barthelemy, the other island in the north of the French Caribbean.

The island of Saint Martin is divided in two, with a French community in the north and a state under the Dutch kingdom in the south, Sint Maarten.

France’s half of Saint-Martin became a French overseas territory in its own right in 2007, having previously belonged administratively to Guadeloupe, France’s biggest possession in the Caribbean.

It had a population of just over 32,000 in 2020.