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France's leftist alliance leaders vow to 'extinguish the flame' of far right in upcoming elections

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France's leftist alliance leaders vow to 'extinguish the flame' of far right in upcoming elections
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France's leftist alliance leaders vow to 'extinguish the flame' of far right in upcoming elections

2024-06-15 04:18 Last Updated At:04:20

PARIS (AP) — Leaders of France’s left-wing parties allied in a new coalition and outlined their plan on Friday to prevent the surging far right from taking power in upcoming snap national parliamentary elections.

Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration National Rally is also seeking allies to boost its chances of becoming the first far-right force to lead the French government since the Nazi occupation. Embattled President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called the alliances on both left and right ‘’crazy'' and incoherent.

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Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — Leaders of France’s left-wing parties allied in a new coalition and outlined their plan on Friday to prevent the surging far right from taking power in upcoming snap national parliamentary elections.

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 mls) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 mls) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, right, speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, right, speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard, show the contrat for the upcoming election during a media conference as Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel stand behind him in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard, show the contrat for the upcoming election during a media conference as Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel stand behind him in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

From left to right, leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election Green Party Yannick Jadot, Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier and Far-left Manuel Bompard applause as they pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla) Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure gestures a he speaks during a media conference for the upcoming election as far-left Manuel Bompard, Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel

From left to right, leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election Green Party Yannick Jadot, Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier and Far-left Manuel Bompard applause as they pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla) Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure gestures a he speaks during a media conference for the upcoming election as far-left Manuel Bompard, Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel

While differences between them remain, the leaders of the usually fractious French left-wing parties emphasized that all of them had compromised during four days of negotiations and aligned their views on issues such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict to prevent a victory by Le Pen’s camp.

Various parties on the left, unions and antiracism groups are also coming together Saturday to hold protests in Paris and across the country against the far right.

The early legislative vote June 30 and July 7 was triggered by Macron’s decision on Sunday to dissolve the National Assembly. France’s lower house of parliament, after his centrist party suffered a crushing defeat by the National Rally in the election for the European Parliament.

The far right is “at the door of power,” leaders of the leftist alliance, named the New Popular Front, warned at a news conference. They urged supporters to mobilize rather than despair, show up and cast their ballots, instead of staying behind, resigned that the outcome of the “historic election” had already been determined in favor of a party with a history of racism and xenophobia.

“We are going to extinguish the flame of the National Rally,” said Marine Tondelier, the national secretary of the Ecologists party. “It’s either us or them.”

Meanwhile, Jordan Bardella, the president of the National Rally, attended an event at a farm in the rural French village of Chuelles, emphasizing the party’s commitment to agricultural issues and rural voters. He highlighted the National Rally’s plans to support French farmers and protect their interests against globalization and EU regulations.

In addition to the environmentalist parties, the New Popular Front alliance, named after a similar coalition formed in the 1930s against the rise of fascism in France, also includes the French Socialists and Communists and the hard-left France Unbowed party of Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has been accused of an antisemitic stance in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

If elected, they promised to repeal a controversial reform of unemployment benefits pushed by Macron's government and reverse his deeply unpopular pension reform law that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64. They also vowed to raise the minimum wage, adjust salaries and pensions with the inflation rate, and freeze food and energy prices to boost people's purchasing power.

“Our goal is to mark a clear break from Emmanuel Macron's policies to address people's immediate needs and set out our county on a vitally important environmental path,” Manuel Bompard of the France Unbowed party said.

The leaders of the alliance's four main parties emphasized that there was no place for antisemitism within their ranks. On the sensitive subject of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, they said they have agreed to condemn the Oct. 7 deadly Hamas-led incursion into southern Israel as “terrorist massacres” and demanded the release of all hostages held by the group in Gaza.

They also promised unwavering support for Ukraine and its defense against Russian aggression, although they vowed that no French troops would ever be sent to Ukraine to help its fight.

Macron dismissed the new alliances as political maneuvering that can't paper over deep differences, notably over Ukraine and Gaza.

‘’We are dealing with crazy people. It’s not serious,'' he said on the sidelines of a G-7 summit in Italy.

‘’We are at a moment of extreme gravity in the life of the country. There are stakes, with wars, with unprecedented economic challenges,'' he said. ‘’I have trust in (the people’s) capacity to look at the projects on the table, and look seriously at whether these projects are bringing solutions for the future of the country and for them.”

Surk reported from Nice, France. Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 mls) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 mls) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, center, meets farmers as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, right, speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election, right, speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Jordan Bardella far-right National Rally leader for the upcoming election speaks to the media as he visits a farm in Chuelles, 137 kms (85 miles) south of Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. The election is to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard, show the contrat for the upcoming election during a media conference as Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel stand behind him in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Far-left Manuel Bompard, show the contrat for the upcoming election during a media conference as Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel stand behind him in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier speaks to the media after a media conference for the upcoming election in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

From left to right, leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election Green Party Yannick Jadot, Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier and Far-left Manuel Bompard applause as they pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla) Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure gestures a he speaks during a media conference for the upcoming election as far-left Manuel Bompard, Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel

From left to right, leaders of France left-wing coalition for the upcoming election Green Party Yannick Jadot, Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel, Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure President of the Green Party Marine Tondelier and Far-left Manuel Bompard applause as they pose for a group photo after a media conference in Paris, Friday, June 14, 2024. Leaders of France's left-wing parties, allied in a coalition known as the New Popular Front on Friday outlined their plan to fend off the far-right from claiming power at the upcoming snap national election. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla) Socialist Party Secretary General Olivier Faure gestures a he speaks during a media conference for the upcoming election as far-left Manuel Bompard, Green Party Marine Tondelier, Green Party Yannick Jadot, and Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — University of Florida president Ben Sasse plans to leave his position as head of one of the leading public universities in the U.S. to focus on taking care of his family after his wife was diagnosed with epilepsy.

In a post on the social platform X, the former U.S. senator from Nebraska said Thursday night that “after extensive prayer and lots of family tears,” he asked university officials that day to start looking for a new president. In a statement, the university said his resignation is effective July 31. He took the position almost two years ago.

“I need to step back for a time and focus more on the needs of my family while we rebuild more stable household systems,” Sasse said, adding that he would continue to teach at the university in Gainesville, Florida.

Sasse's wife, Melissa, who had an aneurysm and a series of strokes in 2007, was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and has been having “a new batch of memory issues," he said.

“We’ve battled some nasty seizures the last couple years, but she’s always remained a warrior,” he said.

The couple has two daughters in college, and their youngest child is turning 13, he said.

Sasse, a Republican, left the senate last year after being named the 13th president of the university.

While in the Senate, he was a prominent critic of former President Donald Trump who joined with a handful of other Republicans to vote in favor of conviction in his impeachment trial after the 2021 Capitol riot. That led to criticism from within Sasse's own party even though he voted with Trump 85% of the time and helped get his three Supreme Court nominees confirmed.

Sasso was a controversial pick to head the University of Florida, and he faced vocal opposition from some faculty and students who objected to his stance against same-sex marriage and positions on other LGBTQ issues.

Some faculty and students also questioned his qualifications to run such a sprawling school with more than 50,000 students. The university's faculty Senate voted no confidence on an opaque selection process in which Sasse emerged as the sole finalist.

The chair of the university's board of trustees, Mori Hosseini, thanked Sasse for his leadership.

“He has left a lasting impact on the university and all of those associated with it. We wish Ben all the best as he steps back to focus on his family,” Hosseini said.

Sasse thanked the university for welcoming his family and said he was grateful for the professors and students as well those behind the scenes, like third-shift maintenance crews and the early morning cafeteria workers.

“We love you. You touched our hearts and made this more than a job — you made it our community,” Sasse said. “That’s why we’re not going anywhere.”

FILE - U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022. Sasse, who left office to become the University of Florida president, announced late Thursday, July 18, 2024, that he will leave his job at the university at the end of the month so he can focus on taking care of his family after his wife was diagnosed with epilepsy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022. Sasse, who left office to become the University of Florida president, announced late Thursday, July 18, 2024, that he will leave his job at the university at the end of the month so he can focus on taking care of his family after his wife was diagnosed with epilepsy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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