Macron’s party poised to win par­lia­ment

Can­di­dates plan to help pres­i­dent ig­nite econ­omy

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY MAYA VIDON-WHITE

PARIS | He has al­ready de­fied France’s tra­di­tional po­lit­i­cal par­ties to claim the pres­i­dency, and now Em­manuel Macron’s up­start, cen­ter-right po­lit­i­cal party En Marche is ex­pected run up a mas­sive vic­tory in par­lia­men­tary elec­tions that be­gin on Sun­day, giv­ing the 39-year-old po­lit­i­cal new­comer a de Gaulle-sized man­date to pur­sue re­forms to shake the coun­try’s scle­rotic econ­omy.

Polls say Mr. Macron’s can­di­dates will eas­ily sur­pass the 289 seats needed for a ma­jor­ity and could be on track to lead one of the big­gest par­lia­men­tary ma­jori­ties of the post-World War II era.

Elected in May by vot­ers who re­jected France’s main­stream par­ties, Macron has pledged to curb French laws that fa­vor la­bor unions, make per­ma­nent emer­gency mea­sures for pub­lic safety adopted af­ter a spate of ter­ror­ist at­tacks that be­gan in 2015 and ex­pand the so­cial safety net to more un­em­ployed work­ers and oth­ers. An econ­omy min­is­ter in the So­cial­ist ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, Mr. Macron also has pro­posed pro-busi­ness mea­sures and cut­ting the state bud­get by $67 bil­lion.

“France is stuck. It doesn’t move for­ward any­more,” said Lu­cile Van Der Slikke, 55, a busi­ness con­sul­tant who said she would vote for En Marche (For­ward). “I want to give a ma­jor­ity to the pres­i­dent. I want him to be able to im­ple­ment his agenda.”

Formed a year ago in a bid to break the di­vide be­tween the fa­mously an­tag­o­nis­tic left and right par­ties, En Marche has never be­fore fielded can­di­dates for par­lia­ment.

On the cam­paign trail in the run-up to the elec­tion last month, Mr. Macron re­peat­edly painted the So­cial­ist Party and the con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans as out of touch and bereft of ideas to ad­dress per­sis­tent un­em­ploy­ment and eco­nomic stag­na­tion.

Mr. Macron is no rad­i­cal, how­ever. In the fi­nal round of pres­i­den­tial vot­ing, he bested Marine Le Pen, the right-wing leader of the Na­tional Front who wanted to cur­tail im­mi­gra­tion severely and pull France out of the Euro­pean Union.

Ful­fill­ing his cam­paign pledge to con­sider ideas across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, the pres­i­dent has ap­pointed Cab­i­net mem­bers from both main­stream par­ties. Now it seems French vot­ers are again em­brac­ing his mod­er­ate vi­sion.

An IFOP sur­vey re­leased Wed­nes­day fore­cast that En Marche can­di­dates would gar­ner as many as 380 seats out of 577 in the Na­tional As­sem­bly, giv­ing Mr. Macron an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity to push through his agenda.

The con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans and their al­lies would win 23 per­cent, the poll said. Left­ist par­ties would win about 21 per­cent, with the once-pow­er­ful So­cial­ists gar­ner­ing only 8 per­cent of the vote. The Na­tional Front was on track to win 17 per­cent.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Jerome Four­quet, who heads the IFOP opin­ion de­part­ment, said Mr. Macron was build­ing on his mo­men­tum.

“Those who voted for the pres­i­dent are mo­bi­lized to give him a ma­jor­ity, while those from the sides that were de­feated are usu­ally less so,” said Mr. Four­quet.

The first round of the leg­isla­tive elec­tions is slated for Sun­day. If can­di­dates fail to win more than 50 per­cent of their dis­tricts, runoffs be­tween the top vote-get­ters on June 18 will de­ter­mine the win­ners.

If the polls are cor­rect, then the French par­lia­ment is slated for an un­prece­dented change. Of the 525 En March can­di­dates run­ning, 281 are not ca­reer politi­cians and are largely un­known to vot­ers. Many even ap­plied on­line to run on the party’s slate. Many of the oth­ers pre­vi­ously be­longed to op­pos­ing par­ties.

“There will be a com­plete re­newal of the par­lia­ment with the ar­rival of deputies who have never worked in pol­i­tics be­fore,” said Ce­cile Cor­nudet, a po­lit­i­cal columnist at the news­pa­per Les Echos, adding that their lack of ex­pe­ri­ence could be a dou­ble-edged sword.

“This is a big un­known,” he said. “We re­ally can’t tell how this will work out. Will they mas­ter the par­lia­men­tary tech­ni­cal­i­ties, which is not an easy task? They might find it’s a thank­less job.”

The ide­al­ism sur­round­ing Mr. Macron will soon face the harsh test of re­al­ity, said Luc Rouban of the Paris In­sti­tute of Po­lit­i­cal Stud­ies. Mr. Macron’s pro­posed pro-mar­ket re­forms al­ready con­cern far-left and far-right vot­ers com­pris­ing around 40 per­cent of the elec­torate. When En Marche runs the par­lia­ment, those peo­ple won’t hes­i­tate from protest­ing in the streets to pro­tect their in­ter­ests, said Mr. Rouban.

“The re­forms will have to be ac­cepted by all, not just the Na­tional As­sem­bly,” he said. “It’s ob­vi­ous that it will cre­ate con­flicts be­cause not every­body will win.”

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, have oc­cu­pied the El­y­see Palace in Paris. Mr. Macron now looks to fill par­lia­ment with enough mem­bers of his up­start En Marche party to have a strong man­date to pur­sue eco­nomic re­forms.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.