Macron camp struggles to make up ground ahead of France polls

EditorLast Update :
Macron camp struggles to make up ground ahead of France polls

French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government made a last-ditch bid for votes on Wednesday, four days ahead of parliamentary elections where the far right has its best-ever chance of leading the government.

The tremors from Macron calling snap elections after his centrist party suffered a drubbing in European polls remain strong, with even figures close to the president acknowledging many French people are uneasy over the political turmoil.

The far-right National Rally (RN) has a clear lead in opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting in the parliamentary elections, followed by the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) coalition with Macron’s centrist alliance in third.

Aged just 28, RN party leader Jordan Bardella could become prime minister after the second round on July 7, although he has said he will only take the job if the RN wins an absolute majority in parliament.

The party’s three-time presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said she expected demonstrations by “the far left” if the RN comes out on top.

She said the left would be “responsible” for any violence, after Macron shocked some observers Monday by warning of “civil war” if his “extreme” opponents claimed a majority.

– ‘Don’t want to lie’ –

With the unpopular Macron encouraged to take a back seat by allies, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal kept up a frenetic campaign pace with visits to the central Loire region and northern France.

He clashed with Bardella and left-wing representative Manuel Bompard on Tuesday in a sometimes ill-tempered TV debate.

Bardella vowed that “if the French put their trust in me, I will be the prime minister of purchasing power”, pledging cuts to VAT and tax breaks for the under-30s.

Attal retorted: “I am prime minister. The difference with me is that I do not want to lie to the French.”

He also rounded on Bardella for his controversial proposal to ban French dual nationals from sensitive strategic posts.

“The message that you send is that dual nationals are half-nationals,” he said.

The RN leader said he would “drastically reduce migratory flows” if he becomes prime minister.

– ‘Political crisis’ –

Regardless of the result, Macron has vowed to stay on as president until the end of his second term in 2027.

Even his allies are still scratching their heads over why Macron called an election which appears certain to leave his alliance with far fewer seats in the National Assembly.

“There is a very strong sense of worry and a certain anger,” Macron’s former premier Edouard Philippe, who leads an allied party, told France Inter radio.

“Many people are disorientated, don’t know which way the country is going to go, or if its political stability is guaranteed,” he added.

The right-wing Senate speaker Gerard Larcher, France’s number two in the constitution, who would take over the presidency if Macron was incapacitated or suddenly resigned, said France was in the throes of a “major political crisis”.

An Ifop poll has the RN on 36 percent, the left-wing NFP on 29.5 percent and Macron’s camp on 20.5 percent.

Most analysts say the likeliest outcome is a hung parliament rather than an outright RN majority, threatening months of political chaos and paralysis.

That could have repercussions for the Paris Olympics that start July 26, with mayor Anne Hidalgo on Wednesday accusing Macron of “spoiling the party”.

“Mankind is coming together around sport. Why ruin this beautiful moment with an election called at the drop of a hat without consulting anyone?” Hidalgo told regional daily Ouest-France.

Macron’s Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told a cabinet meeting that “we’re ready, but the roll-out is another story”.

She warned that things could go wrong without people of “some experience running the state”.