Berliner Tageszeitung - Final polls cast doubt on Macron majority ahead of weekend vote

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Final polls cast doubt on Macron majority ahead of weekend vote




Final polls cast doubt on Macron majority ahead of weekend vote
Final polls cast doubt on Macron majority ahead of weekend vote / Foto: © AFP

A final flurry of polls on Friday ahead of French parliamentary elections this weekend suggested President Emmanuel Macron's allies would emerge as the biggest party in the new national assembly but possibly short of a majority.

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The surveys from the Elabe, Ifop-Fiducial and Ipsos polling companies indicated Macron's "Ensemble" (Together) coalition was on track for 255-305 seats on Sunday, uncertain of securing the 289 needed for a majority.

The figures indicated that voting intentions have remained largely unchanged since the first round of voting last weekend despite energetic campaigning by a new leftwing alliance, NUPES, that is promising to thwart Macron's plans.

"The vote is extremely open and it would be improper to say that things are settled one way or the other," NUPES leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told reporters on Friday as he campaigned in Paris with his EELV green party allies.

The 70-year-old former Trotskyist has not given up on his objective of a securing a majority and being named prime minister, enabling him to block Macron's plans to cut taxes, reform welfare and raise the retirement age.

Forecasting the parliamentary elections in 577 constituencies is seen as a challenging task for polling firms and they have a mixed record.

NUPES candidates will need working-class and young voters to head to the polls in large numbers to stand any chance on Sunday after they abstained at record levels last weekend.

Friday's surveys suggested they were on track for 140-200 seats.

- Ukraine -

Friday was the last day of legal campaigning, with all political activity banned from midnight and Saturday a day of calm before voting gets under way.

Macron returned home from a trip to Kyiv on Thursday, hoping that his trip to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky along with the leaders of Germany, Italy and Romania will help remind voters of his foreign policy credentials.

"It was work for Europe, for our continent and French people," he told BFM television while travelling back. "Because I don't want this war to spread, and because this war is affecting our daily lives: in the price of things, geopolitical disorder, and it is going to affect us over the longterm."

Melenchon's allies have slammed Macron's trip, accusing him of using the Ukraine crisis to grandstand instead of addressing everyday French concerns including soaring inflation.

They pointed to a record heatwave that has struck France this week as another reason to reject the 44-year-old president, who they see as doing too little to combat climate change.

"If you don't want to live episodes like this over and over again and that it becomes the norm, get rid of this government," the head of the EELV green party, Julien Bayou, said Friday.

Martin Quencez, a research fellow at the German Marshall Fund, said it would be crucial for Macron to mobilise right-wing voters to have any hopes of a majority on Sunday.

"If you compare the first round of presidential elections to the first round of the parliamentary elections, you find that Macron has lost about four million voters," he said.

- Caricature? -

The first round of the election on June 12 painted an inconclusive picture, with Ensemble and NUPES neck-and-neck on around 26 percent of the popular vote each.

Just five MPs -- four from NUPES and one from Together -- were elected outright in the first round, leaving all to play for in Sunday's run-off voting.

Turnout in the first round was a record low of 47.5 percent.

Macron and his allies have increasingly sought to portray Melenchon as an economic danger to the country, pointing to his plans for nationalisations as well as major hikes to the minimum wage and public spending.

Senior MP Christophe Castaner has accused the former Trotskyist of wanting a "Soviet revolution", while Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has called him a "French Chavez" in reference to late Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday dismissed 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".

French daily Le Monde wrote Thursday that the campaign since the first round had descended into "caricature... rather than discussing the serious issues of the moment".

P. Hansen--BTZ