PARIS: French voters cast their ballots on Sunday in the first of two rounds that will decide whether President Emmanuel Macron gets a working majority in parliament or ends up without the support needed to drive through his reform agenda.
Less than two months after re-election, Macron faces a strong challenge from a united left-wing bloc that polls show could deprive the president of an outright majority even if it does not take control of parliament.
Government insiders expect a relatively poor showing in Sunday’s first round for Macron’s coalition “Ensemble”, with record numbers of voters seen abstaining. Hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon’s bloc hopes to capitalise on anger over the rising cost of living.
“I voted for hope… so not for our current president,” said Michel Giboz, 71, after voting for Melechon’s NUPES bloc at the poll station located in the 18th Parisian district’s town hall.
Ivan Warren, who voted for Macron in the presidential election, wants to see him win a majority.
“It’s important to me that we have a strong government, which allows us to represent France in the most effective way possible,” the 56-year-old computer scientist said.
At risk is Macron’s ability to pass his reform agenda, including a pension reform he says is essential to restore public finances. His opponents on the left are pushing to cut the pension age and launch a big spending drive.