French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday appealed to voters to give him a “solid majority” in Sunday’s parliamentary polls, warning against adding “French disorder to global disorder”.
Speaking as he departed from Paris to visit French troops dispatched to Romania in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Macron said “the months ahead will be difficult”.
But he called for people to back him in the name of “the higher national interest” and “common sense”.
Macron’s visit this week to Romania and neighbouring Moldova has come under fire at home, coming just ahead of the second round of crucial parliamentary elections in which his majority is at risk.
“Emmanuel Macron has planned a trip abroad for three days… after anaesthetising the campaign by refusing any debate, he saw the second round as a done deal,” Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the left-wing NUPES alliance, told Le Parisien daily.
The incumbent had already been charged by opponents with sitting out April’s presidential vote, bringing home a solid but unspectacular win in the run-off against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Appearing to bet on a similar strategy in this month’s parliamentary poll, his Ensemble (Together) alliance suffered in Sunday’s first round while NUPES and the far right made gains.
Projections suggest voters could hand Ensemble 255-295 seats in the second round — uncomfortably low compared with the threshold for an absolute majority of 289.
Petrol and purchasing power
France deployed 500 troops to Romania following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
Speaking to around 200 French soldiers at a NATO base in Romania on Tuesday, Macron said they were “the pride of France” and hailed them for the “fundamental” commitment to protect eastern European countries threatened by Russia.
On Wednesday, Macron is due to meet Romanian President Klaus Iohannis before visiting Moldova, where fears of a spillover from the Ukraine conflict have spiked after incidents in the pro-Moscow breakaway region of Transnistria.
There have even been press reports — so far unconfirmed — that Macron could make his first visit to Ukrainian capital Kyiv since the assault began in February, alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
But “people (in France) are really worried about petrol, purchasing power, not about him going to visit French soldiers abroad,” one anonymous parliamentary candidate for Ensemble complained to Le Parisien.
Macron acknowledged on Tuesday “disorder in our everyday lives,” telling voters “you’re already paying more for your gas, your petrol, your groceries, and the months ahead will be difficult.”
“In these troubled times, the choice you have to make this Sunday is more crucial than ever,” he added, calling both on people who had voted for other candidates and non-voters to rally behind him.
While the campaign has been dominated by inflation and other economic impacts of the Ukraine war, the left is also trying to make it a referendum on Macron’s plans to raise the minimum retirement age to 65 and reform the pension system.
Rape accusations against Macron’s disabilities minister Damien Abad clouded his party’s campaign before the first round of the parliamentary elections.
A fresh allegation emerged against Abad on Tuesday, as a woman said he tried to rape her in 2010.
But all sides have struggled to get voters excited about the poll, with just 47.5 percent turning out on Sunday.
Since early-2000s reforms to the electoral calendar, interest in the legislative vote — which follows on the heels of the presidential poll — has dwindled, as it has always given the head of state a handy majority.
Source: France 24