Right-wing populist politicians should be “eradicated”, a leading member of the far-left New Popular Front election alliance in France said in a supposed slip of the tongue.

Clémentine Autain has come under criticism for appearing to suggest on national television in France a preference for violence against right-wing populist politicians for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party.

“If we could eradicate them all that would be great,” she said on broadcaster LCI as reported by the Entrevue magazine while stressing the need for a majority in the National Assembly for the leftist New Popular Front, comprised of her own leftist La France Insoumise (LFI) party, the Socialists, the green Écologistes, and the French Communist Party.

The longtime LFI member of the French National Assembly parliament and current candidate in the snap elections for the 11th constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis quickly backtracked from the apparent violent rhetoric.

“Well, eradicate them is not a good word, but if we could drastically reduce the score of the extreme right that would be wonderful,” she said.

Responding to her comments, populist right-wing Member of the European Parliament Gilbert Collard said: “No to hatred! These madmen are dangerous!”

While the left has been deeply divided over the past year in France, with fissures breaking out over Israel and the conflict in Gaza, the left-wing parties finally coalesced last week under the banner of the ‘New Popular Front’ — a reference to a similar leftist alliance in France ahead of World War II — in order to combat the supposed threat posed by the “extreme right” as Le Pen’s National Rally is on course for a victory in the snap elections called by President Macron after his defeat to Le Pen’s party in the European Parliament elections earlier this month.

Despite her apparent Freudian slip of “eradicating” her political opponents, Autain is actually seen as one of the more moderate voices in the far-left LFI party, having criticised leadership for refusing to label Hamas as a terrorist group.

The leader of La France Insoumise and the strongest voice within the New Popular Front, former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has also come under criticism for his radical rhetoric during the campaign.

In a speech on Friday laying out his vision for the new leftist bloc within the National Assembly, Mélenchon claimed that racism is one of France’s biggest issues, and therefore said that those who consider themselves as “native French” are a threat to society.

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