Sunday

20th Aug 2017

Macron looking for a parliament majority

  • Macron's party could get a majority of around 400 seats in the National Assembly, out of 577.

A month after his election to the French presidency, Emmanuel Macron will seek on Sunday (11 June) to strengthen his power in the first round of legislative elections.

Opinion polls suggest that the Republique en Marche (LRM, Republic on the Move) will gather more than 30 percent of votes, well ahead of the conservative Republicans party (around 22%) and the far right National Front (17%).

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In the second round on 18 June, LRM could get a majority of around 400 seats in the National Assembly, out of 577. Such an outcome would give Macron free reign to introduce wide-sweeping reforms, such as more flexibility for the labour market.

It would also confirm and complete the demolition of the French political system, achieved by the 39-year old leader during the presidential election.

The main victim of what many call the "Macron revolution" will be the Socialist Party (PS), which was in power until a month ago with president Francois Hollande.

After the PS candidate Benoit Hamon only got 6.7 percent in the first round of the presidential elections in April, the party could be potentially be swept off the political landscape, with 20 to 30 MPs left, down from 271.

On the right, the Republicans can expect between 95 and 115 seats, according to polls, down from 193 in the current assembly.

The National Front is credited with between 5 and 15 seats, up from two currently.

Despite a record 10.6 million votes obtained by National Front's leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential run-off, the far right party will be deprived of real political weight in the next parliament, thanks to the two-round voting system that often pits the party against all the others.

Macron, who still has to present his first meaningful reform, has been on a winning streak since his election, due to the decomposition of the traditional parties, as well as to a series of international stunts.

He resisted US president's infamous handshake, when he met Donald Trump in Brussels, then lectured Russian president Vladimir Putin about the Russian state media's fake news outlet in Versailles. After Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement, Macron featured in a video that went viral and coined the slogan "Make the planet great again".

The new president, while bringing down the current political system, will benefit from historical convention by which French voters would give the new president a majority to govern.

Voters are poised to do so even if Macron's party, which was founded only a year ago, present many unknown or unexperienced candidates.

Almost half of LRM's candidates never ran in an election before. Only 22 candidates were already MPs, mainly with the PS and the centrist Modem and UDI parties.

Overall, 39 percent of the outgoing MPs will not run again. That means that however large the LRM victory is, the new National Assembly will be, in large part, composed of newcomers.

That will help Macron govern as he wants, but that will also put to the test his ability to meet his promises of reforms and renewal.

The new MPs will arrive "with no knowledge and no practice of the parliamentary world," the historian and political scientist Nicolas Roussellier noted.

"The question is whether this arithmetical renewal will lead to a political renewal: new ideas, new projects or behaviours," he said in an interview in France's national newspaper, Le Monde.

"In previous cases, the windbag quickly deflated. So we have to wait," he added.

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Analysis

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French president is expected to win a three-fifths majority in parliament on Sunday, but he will have to manage an unruly group of MPs in a socially unstable country.

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