French voters voted Sunday in the second and final round of legislative elections, in which President Emmanuel Macron could lose control of the National Assembly and face a resurgent left-wing opposition that is likely to curtail his reform agenda.
An Ipsos survey published on Friday gave the Macron Alliance (Together) the centrist parties between 265 and 305 seats in the assembly, against 140 to 180 for the left-wing green coalition known as Nupes – the New Environmental and Social People’s Union – formed by far-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon .
A party or union must win 289 seats in the 577-seat assembly by direct majority and if Macron fails, he may need to seek the support of conservative Les Républicains (LR) to pass legislation, including his plan to raise the official retirement age from 62 to 65 in reform of the expensive state pension system.
The legislative campaign Elections it was marked by voter apathy – more than half failed to vote in the first round – and an exchange of insults between Macron and his ministers on the one hand and his left-wing rivals on the other.
Macron warned of riots and hopelessness if Melanchon wins control of the assemblywhile Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called the veteran a left-wing politician a “sinister agitator” who would ruin France. Melenchon and his team responded, accusing the government of hiding secret plans to increase VAT.
“The real chaos is Macron,” Melenchon said.
Several ministers running in the election are at risk of losing their seats – including Clement Bonn, the European minister and Macron’s trustee – and if they lose, they will have to resign as instructed by the president.
In a constituency on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where voting takes place earlier than in mainland France, Justin Benin, a junior minister for the sea, has already been defeated by left-wing candidate Christian Batiste.
Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Party, which was defeated in April by Macron in the presidential election, did well in the first round from last weekend’s vote and is expected to win 20 to 50 seats, compared to just eight in 2017.
The LR, which won 112 seats five years ago and was the main opposition in the outgoing National Assembly, lost support and is expected to win 60 to 80 seats, according to an Ipsos poll.
With the victory in April, Macron became the first French president in two decades to secure a second term but rule over an increasingly dissatisfied and polarized country in which nearly 60 percent of voters chose a far-right or far-left candidate in the first round of the presidential election.