Emmanuel Macron poised for historic victory in French parliamentary elections

Less than a month ago, the future was less certain for the former banker’s party

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The Independent Online

Emmanuel Macron is poised for another massive victory in the French parliamentary elections next week, ensuring the country would adopt his centre-right agenda.

France's youngest leader since Napoleon entered the nation’s highest office with no previous experience as an elected candidate, yet has enjoyed a smooth few weeks as President.

The latest polls show his party, En Marche!, will gain big in the 11 and 18 June elections with more than half of the country’s 577 parliamentary seats.

His biggest struggle, an issue he hinted at during his victory speech last month, will be to maintain unity among a divided voter base and even a divided party, given it contains defectors from the socialist and the right-leaning camps.

“I’m aware of the divisions in our nation which have led some people to extreme votes,” he said on 8 May. “I respect them.”

But in a country that has swung from Francois Hollande’s socialist, high-tax government to the precipice of electing Le Front National’s Marine Le Pen as president, Mr Macron badly needs the parliamentary majority to pursue his own centre-right agenda. This includes lowering corporate tax, adopting pro-business laws and investing €50bn (£43bn) into job training and renewable energy over the next five years.

“If we don't have a majority we'll be stuck in an in-between place,” said 28-year-old Pierre Person, an adviser to Mr Macron and a parliamentary candidate.

Many French people felt forced into voting for Mr Macron, the former economic adviser to Mr Hollande, last month to ensure Ms Le Pen did not win the second round.

Now, Ms Le Pen’s party faces an even more humiliating defeat as parties are adopting anti-FN alliances to back them out of parliament. The dire prospect for the FN comes despite strong voter support – between 25 and 33 per cent – backing the far-right party’s policies.

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The OpinionWay survey puts En Marche! at 335-355 seats out of 577, followed by 145-165 for the Republicans – leader François Fillion was knocked out in the first round due to a corruption scandal – a paltry 20-35 seats for the outgoing Socialist party, and between 21 and 34 seats for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left France Unbowed party. Mr Mélenchon insisted he did not want to weaken the Socialists’ party, but replace it.

A total of 7,882 candidates are fighting it out to gain a seat in parliament. Many of the En Marche! candidates are virtually unknown to voters and have no electoral experience, including a former bullfighter, a mathematician and business owners. Mr Macron was a former banker and founded his party one year ago.

The future victory is by no means certain, however.

Voter turnout is expected to be low, and the run-off system on 18 June – any candidate who does not win outright but wins more than 12.5 per cent will qualify – could throw up surprising results. Two of Mr Macron’s ministers, Richard Ferrand and Marielle de Sarnez, are facing allegations of financial misconduct, while the predicted largest opposition party, the Republicans, claims members who would support Mr Macron and those who have refused to co-operate.

Agencies contributed to this report