Macron: French President faces crunch elections, reforms under opposition threat

Macron: French President faces crunch elections, reforms under opposition threat

It’s not even two months since Emmanuel Macron was convincingly re-elected as president but he is already in a crunch election that could prevent him pushing through his reforms.

French voters go to the polls on Sunday, June 19, to decide who will control their National Assembly.

Mr Macron beat the far right in April, but this time the challenge is harder.

Far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon leads a left-green alliance that finished neck and neck with Macron only a week ago.

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They call themselves Nupes, which stands for New Ecological and Social Popular Union, and the polls suggest they could stop the president winning the 289 seats he needs for an outright majority. The centrist Macron alliance, Ensemble, portrays them as a “marriage of convenience” of Communists, Socialists, far-left Mélenchonists and Greens.

But Nupes have galvanised voters with a promise to fight spiralling prices, bring down the retirement age and tackle climate change. Green leaders and many green voters back them, accusing President Macron of doing little in the past five years.

Sunday’s second round is almost entirely made up of run-off duels between two candidates, and almost half involve the two big alliances.

Several ministers in the Macron government are battling to keep their seats and hold on to their jobs, and two of the toughest fights involve Europe Minister Clément Beaune and Green Transition Minister Amélie de Montchalin.

Without an outright majority of 289 seats, Mr Macron will need the support of other parties to push through his big-ticket reforms, such as raising the retirement age, cutting taxes and reforming benefits. Pollsters suggest Ensemble will win 255-305 seats and Nupes 140-200.

As the sun went down on the campaign on Friday night, Nupes spokesman Ian Brossat told supporters in Longjumeau south of Paris: “They didn’t think the left and Greens could get together – it would be chaos and catastrophe; but the chaos today is economic, with food prices going up. We’ve got 10 million people in poverty.”

While fighting for the presidency, Mr Macron rallied voters across the spectrum by presenting his main rival Marine Le Pen as an extremist and contrary to the republic’s values.

With mainstream parties joining the Mélenchon alliance it has become harder to do that with this rival. President Macron has appealed to voters to give him a solid majority in the “superior interest of the nation”, while Russia’s war rages at the gates of Europe.

Former Marxist Jean-Luc Mélenchon has long wanted France to leave Nato but says that is now not a priority. However, he remains controversial, tweeting that “the police kill” and promising to naturalise Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as French if he wins the election.

Mr Macron’s recently appointed prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, has painted Mr Mélenchon’s policies as dangerous because he is “ambiguous on republican values”.

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