French voters elect parliamentarians, in test for Macron

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PARIS — French voters head to the polls in the final round of key legislative elections that will show just how much leeway President Emmanuel Macron’s party will have to implement its ambitious national agenda.

In last week’s first vote, the left, led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, put on a surprisingly strong showing, sending jitters among Macron’s allies.

They fear a strong performance by Melenchon’s coalition on Sunday could turn Macron into a shackled second-term leader, spending his time negotiating with politicians and with significant limits on his ability to govern.

Elections are held across the country to select the 577 members of the National Assembly, the most powerful branch of the French Parliament.

Although Macron’s centrist alliance is expected to win the most seats, observers predict it may not maintain its majority – the golden ratio of 289 seats. In this case, a new coalition made up of the far left, socialists and greens could be forged, which could complicate Macron’s political maneuvering since the lower house of parliament is the key to passing laws.

Macron made a powerfully choreographed appeal to voters earlier this week from the tarmac ahead of a trip to Romania and Ukraine, warning that an inconclusive election, or a hung parliament, would put the nation at risk.

“In these troubled times, the choice you make this Sunday is more crucial than ever,” he said on Tuesday, as the presidential plane waited in the background for a visit to French troops stationed near Ukraine. . “Nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to the disorder of the world,” he said.

Following Macron’s re-election in May, his centrist coalition is aiming for a parliamentary majority that would allow the president to implement his campaign promises, including tax cuts and raising France’s retirement age from 62 to 65 years. There is still hope for his side: Polling agencies estimated that Macron’s centrists could ultimately win 255 to more than 300 seats, while the leftist coalition led by Mélenchon could win more than 200 seats.

Yet many recognize a less than desirable outcome for Macron’s party so far.

“The disappointment was clear on the evening of the first round for the leaders of the presidential parties. Obviously they want to have a new momentum now on the way to the second round,” said Martin Quencez, political analyst at the German Marshall Fund of the States. -United.

If Macron fails to win a majority, it won’t just affect France’s domestic politics, it could have ramifications across Europe. Analysts predict the French leader will have to spend the rest of his term focusing more on his domestic agenda than his foreign policy. It could mean the end of President Macron, the continental statesman.

If he loses his majority, “he would have to become more involved in domestic politics in the next five years than he was before, so one would expect him to have less capital policy to invest at the European level or at the international level… This can have an impact on European policy as a whole in European affairs,” said Quencez.

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