La Gaceta De Mexico - French left, Macron allies trade barbs ahead of tight polls

French left, Macron allies trade barbs ahead of tight polls
French left, Macron allies trade barbs ahead of tight polls / Photo: © AFP

French left, Macron allies trade barbs ahead of tight polls

France's left-wing forces and allies of centrist President Emmanuel Macron exchanged bitter accusations Thursday ahead of the final round of tightly-contested parliamentary elections, where the French leader risks losing his overall majority.

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Losing a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly lower house in Sunday's vote could be a heavy blow to Macron's hopes of reform, just two months after he triumphed against far-right leader Marine Le Pen in presidential elections.

Macron has endured a tricky start to his second term -- against a background of rising prices and Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- while the French left has finally united its disparate forces into a coalition.

The final campaigning is taking place with Macron out of the country as he visits Ukraine at the end of a three-day trip that has seen him travel to Romania and Moldova.

The first round on June 12 painted an inconclusive picture, with Macron's centrist Ensemble (Together) coalition and the left-wing Nupes alliance led by hard-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon neck-and-neck on around 26 percent of the popular vote each.

Just five MPs -- four from Nupes and one from Ensemble -- were elected outright in the first round, leaving all to play for in Sunday's final stage of voting.

Polls project a range between either a slim majority for Ensemble or falling short by several dozen seats of the 289 MPs needed for an overall majority.

The nightmare outcome for Macron -- seen as unlikely but not totally excluded -- would be a majority for Nupes that would see Melenchon become prime minister in an uncomfortable "cohabitation".

- 'French Trumpism' -

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told French television late Wednesday in a prime-time interview that the "seriousness" of the international situation meant it was vital to hold a "strong majority in the National Assembly to continue to hold our place in Europe and in the world".

She slammed Nupes as "the alliance of circumstance" hiding Melenchon's "extreme vision" that is "dangerous for our economy".

But Manon Aubry, a European deputy for Melenchon's party, accused Borne of "coming up with one lie after another".

"She spent more than half of the interview talking about Nupes, which shows they are scared. The reality is that it's them who bring chaos," she told Franceinfo radio.

France's Europe Minister Clement Beaune, a close ally of Macron, accused Melenchon of "French Trumpism", after the former US president, and coming up with "fake news" especially on taxes.

Melenchon for his part accused Macron of acting like Trump in an unscheduled election speech at a Paris airport before leaving for Romania on Tuesday, where he urged voters to give a "solid majority", warning against adding "French disorder to global disorder".

"A cohabitation will take place if we are in the majority, and the president will have to submit to it or else resign," Melenchon said, sniping that "Mr Macron should not take on too many habits of Mr Trump".

- Careers on line -

Key members of the younger generation of French politics -- Budget Minister Gabriel Attal, 33, Le Pen's de facto number two Jordan Bardella, 26, and Melenchon ally Clementine Autain, 49 -- will meanwhile take part in a televised debate at 1900 GMT.

According to the latest poll by Ifop-Fiducial for LCI and Sud Radio, Ensemble is projected to get 265-300 seats against 180-210 for the left, meaning the overall majority is far from assured.

With most cabinet ministers standing for election and Macron insisting that those who lose should step down, election night promises to be a nervous time for some big names.

Beaune, the face of France's Europe policy, is facing a tough challenge from the left in his Paris constituency, while Environment Minister Amelie de Montchalin is in even more danger in the fight for her seat in the Essonne region south of Paris.

Turnout was just 47.5 percent in the first round and the chances of the left coalition may depend on how much they can bring out disenchanted young and working-class voters.

Meanwhile, despite placing far less emphasis on these elections than the presidential polls, Le Pen is projected by most polls to exceed the minimum of 15 MPs needed to form an official faction in parliament, the first time her far-right party will have managed such a breakthrough since 1986.