France's Macron to reshuffle government after parliament win

Ivan Schwartz
June 19, 2017

The party will have far more than the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority to carry out Macron's program. The Socialists, who ruled the nation before Macron, won only 6 percent.

The interim LREM leader, Catherine Barbaroux, said the party could now start work towards changing France.

The regime was designed by wartime hero Charles de Gaulle, who was anxious that the pre-war parliamentary squabbling he blamed in part for France's fall to Nazi Germany could not be repeated.

"It is a movement that disrupts", said Eddy Fougier, a political scientist with the Paris-based French Institute of worldwide and Strategic Affairs.

The feisty 48-year-old, who lost by a 20-point margin to Emmanuel Macron in May's presidential run-off, won handily in her northern fiefdom of Henin-Beaumont, a depressed former mining town, with 58 per cent of the vote, she announced. Ultimately, he will be judged on his results, and whether he can make a proper dent in France's unemployment rate of 10%.

LREM lawmakers can now overhaul France's labor policies by cutting tens of thousands of public-sector jobs and overhauling the pension system.

Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets, said: "While Macron didn't fare quite as well as last week's projections suggested, the parliament seems highly likely to grant him the special powers required to allow him to drive through his labour market reforms by decree, perhaps by the end of the summer". "I think it's enough now" from parties that held power in the past.

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French President Macron won a large majority in Parliament, winning 351 out of 577 seats. The centre-right Republicans and allies will form the main opposition but with a disappointing 125 seats, down from 199, according to the estimate. The Socialists were forecast to win a meager 20 to 30 seats.

Le Pen's right wing Front National party garnered 13.2% of the vote last Sunday and is expected to take between one and four seats.

If the steamroller effect continues for Macron's party, half of whose candidates are women and the other half new to politics, France will have a chamber of representatives like few others, fulfilling the president's wish to renew a political class dominated by career politicians, peppered with corruption and losing credibility. Now only around 12 deputies in the assembly have backgrounds from those regions.

But former education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem - a one-time Socialist star - was beaten by an REM candidate in the central city of Lyon, while former labour minister Myriam El Khomri lost to Macron-supporting candidate Pierre-Yves Bournazel in the capital. "Macron has proven to be a skillful and focused political operator".

Mr Macron's party, which did not exist 14 months ago and offered novice candidates from civilian life, has drawn from left and right to fill its ranks, effectively blurring the traditional left-right political divide. "But at the same time, he managed to do this while defending centrist and moderate positions on economic and social issues".

Macron's party, founded just a year ago, won the first round of elections on June 11 with less than half of eligible voters going to the polls.

Other reports by GizPress

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