PARIS (AP) — Nathalie Loiseau, who leads French president Emmanuel Macron’s party in the May European Union parliament elections, faced criticism Tuesday after a report that she featured on a list alongside far-right candidates at a student’s election 35 years ago.
Mediapart reported Monday that the Former European Affairs minister appeared in sixth position on the candidate list of UED — a students’ union linked to far-right movement GUD — during elections held in 1984 at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, also known as Sciences Po.
Loiseau, who has focused on the fight against nationalism, told Mediapart she had not been aware at the time that the other candidates on the same list held far-right views.
“If I had identified people from the GUD on this list, obviously I would have refused to appear on it,” she said. “I regret to have been associated with these people.”
Loiseau’s political rivals swiftly criticized Loiseau. Manon Aubry, who heads the European election campaign for the left-wing France Unbowed movement, joked that she was not surprised that Loiseau refuses to debate with the far-right candidate “because it should remind her of her youth.”
Loiseau later said on Twitter she found “revolting” suggestions that she was close to the far-right.
“It’s the opposite of my life and engagement for 35 years,” she wrote .
Polls suggest that Loiseau’s list for the centrist Republic on the Move party will be among France’s top two vote-getters in the election, which takes place in each EU nation between May 23-26 and in France on May 26. The group appears slightly ahead of Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, far-right National Rally party.