French voters head to the polls Sunday for the final round of parliamentary elections, with centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition looking to hold off a challenge from a newly formed leftwing alliance.
The vote will be decisive for Macron’s second-term agenda following his re-election in April, with the 44-year-old needing a majority in order to push through promised tax cuts, welfare reform and a rise in the retirement age.
New left-wing coalition NUPES is hoping to spring a surprise, with the red-green collective promising to block Macron’s agenda after uniting behind 70-year-old figurehead Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is also eyeing major gains for her National Rally party, which had just eight seats in the outgoing parliament.
Surging inflation, lackluster campaigning from newly named Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, and Macron’s abrasive personality were all seen as reasons for the under-performance.
The first-round vote served to whittle down candidates in most of the country’s 577 constituencies to two finalists who will go head-to-head on Sunday.
– ‘French disorder?’ –
Senior MP Christophe Castaner has accused Melenchon of wanting a “Soviet revolution”, while Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire called him a “French Chavez” in reference to the late Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez.
“We need a solid majority to ensure order outside and inside our borders. Nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to the world disorder,” Macron said.
Melenchon has promised a break from “30 years of neo-liberalism” — meaning free-market capitalism — and has pledged minimum wage and public spending hikes, as well as nationalisations.
– Turnout key –
NUPES would secure around 140-200 seats, making them the biggest opposition force, while Le Pen’s National Rally was seen to get around 20-45 seats.
But after scoring 41.5 percent in the presidential election in April, Le Pen is still struggling to convert her huge national following into major representation in parliament.
“You also have the chance to protect the country from the far-left.”
Figures will be given throughout the day by the interior ministry and a higher-than-expected turnout would most likely favor NUPES, which is banking on young people and the working classes voting.
Originally published as Macron’s second term online in parliamentary election