Macron's new centrist party stretches lead, survey shows

 18 May 2017 - 11:23

Macron's new centrist party stretches lead, survey shows
French President Emmanuel Macron waits to welcome the European Council president at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris on May 17, 2017. / AFP / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN?


Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron's new centrist party has stretched its lead in the polls ahead of parliamentary elections next month, new survey data showed Thursday, adding to the positive momentum for the 39-year-old leader.

A survey from the Harris Interactive group showed that 32 percent of people planned to vote for Macron's Republique en Marche (REM) in the first round of parliamentary elections on June 11.

The figure showed a three-point gain from the week before, with the rightwing Republicans and far-right National Front losing one point each to stand at 19 percent.

Another survey published Thursday by the Elabe polling group showed that 61 percent of French people approved of the new government unveiled Wednesday, which mixed Socialists, centrists, rightwingers and newcomers to politics.

Rightwing Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday that the government had been chosen to last and was "in line with the political renewal that we are in the process of putting in place."

Macron, who defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen on May 7 to become the country's youngest president ever, is hoping to sink France's traditional parties as he seeks to redraw the political map.

His aim is to win a parliamentary majority with REM and its centrist allies which would enable him to push through his ambitious plans to overhaul labour regulations, social security, schools and pensions.

The polling data does not forecast the number of seats REM and its allies would win in the 577-seat National Assembly, which is difficult to predict because of France's two-round voting system. 

The top two candidates in the first round of voting will go through to a run-off vote on June 18.

Many analysts remain sceptical about Macron's ability to win a majority with REM but Macron has always claimed that voters are "coherent".

Having elected him president, they would then give him a parliamentary majority to govern, he said repeatedly on the campaign trail.