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Me or chaos: Emmanuel Macron adopts ominous tone ahead of crucial vote

The 44-year-old centrist even took time ahead of an official visit to eastern Europe to discuss the vote

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France | Emmanuel Macron | French elections

Samy Adghirni | Bloomberg 

Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron casts his ballot during the final round of parliamentary elections on Sunday.

French President and his proxies took on an apocalyptic tone during the final week of campaigning before the legislative election runoff, saying the country faces chaos if it doesn’t hand him an absolute majority on Sunday.

The 44-year-old centrist even took time ahead of an official visit to eastern Europe to discuss the vote, telling reporters on Tuesday that “nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to the world’s disorder.” Three days later In Ukraine, he depicted his left-wing opponents as a dangerous force that will bring destabilization, amid war and rising energy prices.

Macron came to power in 2017 promising a revolution in Europe’s second-largest economy, but his reform drive was slowed by protests and brought to a halt by the Covid pandemic.

Re-elected in April, he now has another five years to leave his mark, but his ability to pass key reforms will depend on how many seats his alliance wins in the 577-strong National Assembly. For lawmaking to be smooth, he needs an absolute majority of at least 289 lawmakers.

Items on his agenda include plans to increase the retirement age and deliver tax reforms. Without the excitement he generated when he was first elected and facing an energized opposition, support from a majority of lawmakers is far from guaranteed.

Results after the first round vote on June 12 showed that while Macron’s alliance, called Ensemble, would still represent the largest bloc in parliament, his majority would likely shrink dramatically, and possibly even disappear. Polls released in the past week gave a range between 252 and 305 seats.

A result anywhere within that range would be a far weaker outcome than last time around, when after winning a first term Macron went on to secure a sweeping majority of 350 seats that allowed him to pass a labor reform. A total below 289 seats would force him to compromise and forge alliances to cement cooperation.

Macron faces other risks, too. The left-wing Nupes grouping led by Jean-Luc Melenchon is on track to become the second-biggest bloc. Polls project it winning 140 and 225 seats. If it manages to get 185 lawmakers, it will emerge as a disruptive force, able to demand referendums. It will also be able to call for parliamentary investigations, and could flood debates over bills with amendment proposals.

With 20 to 50 seats, the far-right National Rally should emerge with a formal legislative status for only the second time since the 1980s. That would allow it to influence committees and get a designated amount of floor time to air its views, an important step in the decade-long effort by Marine Le Pen to bring the party to the center of French .

Macron could also end up forced to shuffle his government, as ministers are running to become lawmakers and will lose their current jobs if they don’t get elected. A cabinet member specially at risk is EU affairs minister Clement Beaune, who may lose against a Nupes candidate in central Paris.

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First Published: Sun, June 19 2022. 22:59 IST
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