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Marine Le Pen has sparked uproar in France after accusing President Emmanuel Macron of staging an "administrative coup d'etat".

After a crushing defeat in the first round of French parliamentary elections, Macron has reportedly began pushing through a number of official appointments within the civil service and France's EU offices.

That in itself had followed a row between Macron's team and Le Pen's party, the National Rally (RN), which argued that such appointments should be the business of the next government.

But now, the hard-right heavyweight has hit out at the French President, lambasting Macron as anti-democratic and obstructive in a damning interview on French radio.

Le Pen said: "When you want to counter the electorate's vote, the results of elections, by appointing people of your own, so that they prevent you within the state from being able to carry out the policy that the French want.

"I call that an administrative coup d'etat - I hope it's only a rumour."

Speaking to France Inter radio, she also claimed Macron would hand out top jobs "with the aim of preventing [RN candidate for Prime Minister] Jordan Bardella from governing the country as he wishes".

But the Macron administration replied with a cutting defence of the President's reported actions.

MORE AS POLITICAL TURMOIL GRIPS FRANCE:

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The Elysee Palace's statement read: "Being in a position of responsibility means keeping cool and showing moderation."

It doubled down on Macron and Le Pen's earlier spat, reinforcing the view that the responsibility of appointing state officials lay with the current administration, "independently of the political moments our institutions are traversing".

Macron's team faces a race against time to shore up support before next Sunday's parliamentary run-off, with both the President and PM Gabriel Attal pushing hard for as many parties as possible to join his Ensemble coalition and see off the RN.

More than 200 candidates across the political spectrum have so far agreed to tactically withdraw from local contests to clear the path for whoever is best-placed to defeat the RN runner in their constituencies.

Also speaking to France Inter radio, Attal said: "What these withdrawals show is that we can avoid an absolute majority for the far right."

In France, any party or coalition needs to secure 289 seats to control the 577-seat National Assembly - and when asked about calls for the creation of a temporary cross-party government if no grouping achieved a majority, Attal said he would not impose on voters "a coalition they did not choose".

"I hope the (Macron-allied) Ensemble camp is a big as possible," he said. "After that we will seek to secure majorities on a project-by-project basis."

Macron has rejected linking up with far-left France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Melenchon - a figure often compared to Jeremy Corbyn - in order to secure a larger coalition.

And even if the incumbent President manages to cobble together that magic 289 number, France could face months of political uncertainty through to the end of his term in 2027 - when Le Pen is widely expected to mount a challenge for the position itself.

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