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France’s President-elect Scrambles to Find Candidates for Upcoming Parliamentary Poll


A police officer stands guard next to a newsstand displaying the cover of a news magazine depicting French president-elect Emmanuel Macron on the Champs Elyses avenue in Paris, France, May 8, 2017.

Pro-business, pro-Europe and centrist – Emmanuel Macron was elected president on a promise to change French politics. But just days after his win, France's president-elect is struggling to find candidates for next month’s parliamentary poll.

“I know the divisions within our nation,” he said in his victory speech, promising he would fight those divisions with all his strength.

But without an established party behind him, the parliamentary elections present a special challenge.

He set up a political movement called En Marche! – Onward! – to get him elected. Now he has to turn it into a political force to be reckoned with.

So far, he has come up with 428 names for 577 seats in the French National Assembly.

More than half of them have never held elected office. Only five percent are outgoing members of parliament.

True to his promise for parity, slightly more than half are women.

The average age is 46 – that is older than the president-elect, who is just 39.

Among the few better-known names is Eric Halphen, the judge who investigated former president Jacques Chirac for corruption.

There is also a woman who used to be a bullfighter, a video game tycoon, and a mathematics genius.

Outgoing French President Francois Hollande (R) reaches out to touch President-elect Emmanuel Macron, as they attend a ceremony to mark the end of World War II at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, May 8, 2017.
Outgoing French President Francois Hollande (R) reaches out to touch President-elect Emmanuel Macron, as they attend a ceremony to mark the end of World War II at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, May 8, 2017.

Pursuit of majority

Political analyst Jean-Yves Camus says that is not the best recipe for success.

“If he only appeals to the start-uppers, the young, educated people, the winners of globalization, those in the professions, and so on, he will not remain for five years.”

Many of these new candidates are from the left or center-left, but few from right of center.

That could be a problem for Macron and his movement, as the defeated conservative party, The Republicans, is fielding candidates with a view to taking the majority in the National Assembly.

Camus argues that a seriously weakened Socialist Party, after its defeat in the first round of the presidential election, also is bad for Macron.

"If the Socialist Party totally collapses, I mean there is a possibility that it will not even exist as the socialist party in a few months; this will be very bad for Macron. Because he needs to have people on his right-hand side, and people on his left-hand side."

First, though, Macron has to name a new government – and then he has just one month to convince the French to give him a parliamentary majority, or at least to ensure the majority is not opposed to his policies and plans.

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