Macron Majority at Risk After Parliament 1st-Round Vote


(Bloomberg) — French President Emmanuel Macron could lose his outright majority in parliament, forcing him to compromise and rely on coalition partners to push forward his ambitious reforms.

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The party headed by the 44-year-old centrist, who was re-elected in April, and his allies are expected to win between 265 and 304 seats in the National Assembly, according to a compilation of projections by four pollsters based on Sunday’s first round of votes.

A total of 289 lawmakers is needed for an outright majority.

The second-largest group in parliament looks set to be Nupes, an alliance of left-wing parties led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, with 163-207 seats. The far-right National Rally is on track to get 17-36 seats while the conservative Republicans party and its allies are set to have at least 33, according to pollsters.

The precise outcome of the second round of the vote on June 19 is hard to predict as there are 577 constituencies and it’s not always clear with whom supporters of losing candidates will cast their lot.

Macron acknowledged after winning a second term that many voters backed him to keep his far-right rival Marine Le Pen out rather than because of their enthusiasm for his platform. Since then, headaches have piled up further. One of Macron’s ministers was accused of sexual harassment while a shooting in Paris revived painful debates about policing.

Losing his outright majority could curtail Macron’s ability to carry out plans to raise the retirement age and other controversial reforms such as changes in unemployment benefits.

The other risk for Macron is the disrupting potential of the left-wing coalition. Melenchon wants the French to retire at 60 and to increase the minimum wage.

The result is “an extraordinary opportunity,” Melenchon said shortly after polls closed. He called on supporters to turn out heavily next week to reject Macron’s program.

The left-wing bloc needs 185 lawmakers to be able to call for referendums and parliamentary investigations, and could be numerous enough to flood debates over bills with amendment proposals.

“They could prevent Macron from sleeping at night,” said Martin Quencez, who follows French politics for the German Marshall Fund in Paris.

(Adds far-right score in fourth paragraph.)

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