Emmanuel Macron’s French majority questioned after the first round of Parliament

France: Sunday’s vote followed April presidential elections in which Macron won a second term (File)

Paris:

French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance was in danger of running out of a majority after a first round of legislative elections on Sunday saw renewed support for a new left-wing coalition.

Macron’s “Ensemble” (Together) alliance was neck and neck with leftist group NUPES in Sunday’s first round, with the two securing around 25-26% of the popular vote.

Extrapolating from those numbers, four polling firms predicted that Together would win 225 to 295 seats in the deciding second round of voting next Sunday, perhaps short of a majority of 289 but comfortably the largest group.

“We have a week ahead of us to mobilize,” Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne told reporters. “A week to convince, a week to obtain a powerful and clear majority.”

Together was “the only political formation capable of obtaining a majority”, she added.

NUPES, a newly unified left-wing alliance of leftists, socialists, greens and communists, won 150-220 seats, a major breakthrough that would make it the largest opposition force in the National Assembly.

“It’s a very serious warning that has been sent to Emmanuel Macron,” political scientist Brice Teinturier told France 2 television, noting how support for the president’s party had fallen since the last election in 2017.

“A majority is far from certain,” he added.

If Macron’s coalition fails, it should lead to messy, bill-by-bill deals with right-wing parties in parliament, or he should try to poach opposition or independent MPs to his side.

Under the French constitution, the president has exclusive control of foreign and defense policy, but needs a majority in parliament to pass national legislation.

‘First test’

Sunday’s vote followed presidential elections in April in which Macron won a second term, defeating far-right leader Marine Le Pen with promises to cut taxes, reform welfare and raise the economy. retirement age.

Behind their divisions, the French left has united behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a hard left veteran who has a radically different agenda, including lowering the retirement age, raising the minimum wage by 15% and creating wealth taxes.

“NUPES passed the first test they faced in a magnificent way,” Melenchon told reporters in a statement afterwards, calling on fans to “pour out” next Sunday.

He called for support in particular from the working classes and young people, adding that Macron’s allies have been “beaten and defeated”.

The overall turnout is expected to be at a record high of 46.8 to 47.9 on Sunday, according to polling stations, with abstentionism particularly high in working-class neighborhoods.

Le Pen seemed certain of re-election as an MP representing a former mining town in northern France, Henin-Beaumont, with her National Rally party appearing on track to increase its representation.

After winning 18.5-19.7% of the popular vote on Sunday, he was on track to secure 5-45 seats in the new parliament next weekend, up from eight currently.

More than 15 MPs would give the far right a formal group in parliament, giving it more time to speak out and put issues on the agenda as well as additional resources.

Defeated far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour was eliminated on Sunday after running in a constituency around Saint-Tropez in southern France.

No honeymoon

While Macron and his European Union allies were relieved by Macron’s victory over Le Pen in April, the past few weeks have offered no honeymoon for the 44-year-old head of state.

Energy and food prices are soaring, while the disorder and tear gas from England fans in the Champions League final in Paris on May 28 has sparked recriminations.

His new Disability Minister Damien Abad has also faced two rape charges – which he has vehemently denied – while new Prime Minister Borne has yet to make an impact.

Macron is due to make a public appearance at an arms fair in Paris on Monday morning, kicking off what promises to be an intense week of campaigning on all sides.

He and his allies have sought to portray Melenchon as an old-fashioned, tax-savvy, spendthrift leftist whose anti-EU and anti-NATO policies pose a danger to the country.

Melenchon accuses Macron of planning to undermine public services dear to France and promises strong environmental policies and “harmony with nature”.

Jerome Jaffre, a political scientist, said many voters seemed motivated by a desire to deprive Macron of an absolute majority.

“It means that they hope to force him to work more with others, to share power and to really change his method (of government) that he promised during his presidential campaign,” he told the LCI channel.

Official numbers from Sunday’s vote are due Monday morning.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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