President Emmanuel Macron on Monday warned that the policies of his far-right and hard-left opponents could lead to “civil war” as France prepared for its most divisive election in decades.

French politics were plunged into turmoil by Macron calling snap legislative elections after his centrist party was trounced by the far-right National Rally (RN) in a European vote earlier this month.

Weekend polls suggested the RN would win 35–36 percent in the first round on Sunday, ahead of a left-wing alliance at 27–29.5 percent and Macron’s centrists in third at 19.5–22 percent.

A second round of voting will follow on July 7 in constituencies where no candidate takes more than 50 percent in the first round.

Speaking on the podcast “Generation Do It Yourself,” Macron, 46, denounced both the RN as well as the hard-left France Unbowed party.

He said the far-right “divides and pushes towards civil war,” while the hard-left France Unbowed party, which is part of the New Popular Front alliance, proposes “a form of communitarianism,” adding that “civil war follows on from that, too.”

Earlier Monday, French far-right leader Jordan Bardella said his RN party was ready to govern as he pledged to curb immigration and tackle cost-of-living issues.

Bardella, credited with helping the RN clean up its extremist image, has urged voters to give the eurosceptic party an outright majority to allow it to implement its anti-immigration, law-and-order program.

He reiterated plans to tighten borders and make it harder for children born in France to foreign parents to gain citizenship.

Bardella added that the RN would focus on “realistic” measures to curb inflation, primarily by cutting energy taxes.

He also promised a disciplinary “big bang” in schools, including a ban on mobile phones and trialing the introduction of school uniforms, a proposal previously put forward by Macron.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal of Macron’s Renaissance party poured scorn on the RN’s economic program, telling Europe 1 radio the country was “headed straight for disaster” in the event of an RN victory.

On Tuesday, Attal will go head-to-head with Bardella in a TV debate.

Clare Byrne with AFP