Polls pre­dict French pres­i­dent’s party will get 280-300 of 535 seats in Na­tional As­sem­bly

New Straits Times - - World -


APARLIAMENTARY ma­jor­ity looks to be within reach for cen­trist French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron in next month’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tion, opin­ion polls in­di­cated on Thurs­day, as his cross-par­ti­san gov­ern­ment held its first meet­ing.

Macron’s elec­tion as pres­i­dent on May 7 smashed a decades-old left-right grip on politics and has left the con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans (LR) and the So­cial­ists in dis­ar­ray. But he needs a win for his fledg­ling party in leg­isla­tive elec­tions to im­ple­ment his poli­cies.

An Opin­ionWay/ORPI poll found Macron’s Republic on the Move (REM) set to win 27 per cent of votes in the first round of the Na­tional As­sem­bly elec­tion on June 11, ahead of all other par­ties.

It pro­jected that, after the sec­ond round on June 18, Macron’s party would have se­cured 280300 of the 535 main­land seats in the lower house. When over­seas ter­ri­to­ries are in­cluded, 289 seats are needed for an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity.

Two other polls pub­lished by Harris In­ter­ac­tive had Macron’s party lead­ing with 32 per cent, up three points since May 11 and six points since May 7.

But another sur­vey sounded a cau­tion­ary note, find­ing that only 45 per cent of vot­ers had con­fi­dence in Macron and even fewer in Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe — the low­est rat­ings for French lead­ers start­ing their terms in over 20 years.

Those present at the cab­i­net meet­ing, the first since min­is­ters were ap­pointed on Wed­nes­day, in­cluded econ­omy and bud­get min­is­ters from the right, a TV en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist put in charge of ecol­ogy and en­ergy, and a vet­eran So­cial­ist who was de­fence min­is­ter in the last gov­ern­ment and is now in charge of Europe and for­eign pol­icy.

“Hav­ing dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal back­grounds will not stop us work­ing in­tel­li­gently for France, this was the first mes­sage the pres­i­dent wanted to con­vey,” gov­ern­ment spokesman Christophe Cas­taner said.

He said labour re­form, highly con­tro­ver­sial in France, “must be launched very quickly”.

Macron’s plans in­clude tack­ling un­em­ploy­ment of 9.6 per cent by making hir­ing and fir­ing eas­ier.

Philippe, a con­ser­va­tive who was ex­cluded from the Repub­li­cans for join­ing the gov­ern­ment, said he would cam­paign to help se­cure a REM ma­jor­ity.

Repub­li­cans cam­paign leader Fran­cois Baroin voiced his anger at the de­fec­tions of Philippe, Econ­omy and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bruno Le Maire and Bud­get Min­is­ter Ger­ald Dar­manin, say­ing: “This is not the spoils of war, it’s a hostage-tak­ing.”

Philippe said that, de­spite its di­ver­sity, the cab­i­net was built to last, but his as­ser­tion is likely to be tested over the com­ing weeks and months.

Sev­eral min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Le Maire, have said they will stand in the par­lia­men­tary elec­tion, and Philippe con­firmed that they would have to quit the gov­ern­ment if they lost.

One con­tro­ver­sial ap­point­ment was that of Ni­co­las Hu­lot, a well-known TV en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist who has no back­ground as a politi­cian de­spite hav­ing ad­vised sev­eral pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments.

News of his ap­point­ment sent shares in the dom­i­nant state power util­ity EDF sharply down amid con­cerns that he might want to force the pace of change in France’s nu­clear-dom­i­nated en­ergy mix. Reuters


French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron (sec­ond from right) chair­ing a se­cu­rity coun­cil meet­ing at the El­y­see Palace in Paris on Thurs­day.

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