Macron criticised for Cabinet choices by student
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The French leader could lose his outright parliamentary majority and with it the ability to push through his economic reform agenda with a free hand after a strong showing by a new left-wing alliance in the first round of voting.
President Macron’s centrist alliance and the NUPES coalition led by the hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon each won 26 percent of the vote amid record abstentions on Sunday, though it is the June 19 second round alone that will determine the division of seats.
Elabe projected Mr Macron’s Ensemble! alliance would win between 260-295 National Assembly seats – with the mark for an outright majority set at 289 seats – and that the left would secure 160-210 seats, a big increase from 2017.
After Sunday’s vote, Mr Melenchon tweeted: “Come out and vote next Sunday to reject the evil politics of Mr Macron.”
According to Politico, President Macron has been “bleeding voters” since he won the presidential election against right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen in April.
They warned the French President should be “fear” this parliamentary vote as he has lost almost 4 million in absolute numbers since April.
According to data from polling institute Harris Interactive, at least 9 percent of voters who backed Mr Macron in April opted for candidates from France’s conservative party, Les Républicains last weekend.
The French President is also losing support over his prioritising of international affairs over domestic issues.
Politico wrote: “Macron has done little on-the-ground electioneering, replicating his presidential campaign strategy of positioning himself as an above-the-fray leader steering his country during troubled times. But that’s a risky gambit when citizens’ most pressing concerns are about health care or the cost of living.”
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Sunday’s results also showed that the French President lacks the support of the youngest voters in the country, who prefer 70-year-old Melenchon.
If Mr Macron’s centrist alliance loses its outright majority in the run-off round, the president will be forced into making messy pacts with factions of the centre right or centre left who refuse to align with Melenchon on a bill-by-bill basis.
It could also trigger a cabinet reshuffle.
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At stake is President Macron’s ability to pass reforms including a contested pension reform that would see the French work longer, a change the former investment banker says is necessary to ensure long-term order to the public finances.
His opponents on the left are pushing to cut the pension age and launch a big spending drive as surging inflation drives the cost of living higher and erodes wages. Melenchon depicts Macron as an economic liberal who protects the rich and not hard-up households.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne defended the ruling party’s performance on Sunday.
She said: “Contrary to the words of Mr Melenchon, who really has a problem with reality, we are the political force that has the most candidates in the second round, there are candidates from presidential majority in three-quarters of constituencies, and we will mobilise this week to win a clear and strong majority.”
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