France’s Macron party stretches lead in European elections, but challenges remain

France’s Macron party stretches lead in European elections, but challenges remain

PARIS (Rahnuma):  Less than two weeks before voting begins, French President Emmanuel Macron’s the Republic on the Move (LREM) party consolidated its lead over its far-right rival Marine Le Pen for the due European elections, a poll released on Wednesday showed.

The centrist ruling party list for the European contest, headed by ex-European affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau, is on course to win 23.5 percent of the votes, up by 1.5 percentage point from a previous survey, Elabe pollster found.

In a race to Starsbourg-based parliament looked as a two-horse course between reformist platform and nationalist approach, the National Rally’s score is put at 22 percent of voting intentions, unchanged from April poll.

The pollster added 41 percent of 2,002 respondents said to turn to ballot stations on May 26 to choose 74 lawmakers for the European parliament, while 37 percent of them said could change their choice.

In another survey of Kantar-Onepoint released on Tuesday, the far-rightists list moved ahead the ruling party with 23 percent against 20 percent.

As nationalism has spread into European neighbors and expected to perform strongly, Macron has cast the upcoming election as a battle between his progressive ideas and what he sees as promotion of nationalist or anti-EU agendas that could, according to him, put France’s interests and that of the European bloc on edge.

At a press conference in the sidelines of European summit in Sibiu last week, the French president said that “I will energize all efforts so that the National Rally is not in the lead”.

Seeking to give a boost to the Renaissance list, the 41-year-old head of state throws himself into the campaign by appearing in a poster with a smiling face and a look at the horizon.

In the non-official LREM candidates poster, it was written “On the march for Europe, May 26, I vote Renaissance.”

“Macron is the only glue that holds his En Marche movement together, and the further his political fortunes sink as the time for his re-election approaches, the greater the danger that things come unstuck,” analysts wrote at the Eurointelligence blog.

“Macron’s European troubles have already begun, and might get even worse,” they added.

Even the street protests against his policy have lessened, a continued social malaise and wane public support cast doubt into Macron’s ability to carry out the reforms he has announced to renew the European Union in particular that of a joint eurozone budget and further integration of the bloc on migration, defense and trade, believed the analysts.

According to Elabe, national issues still dominate European ones, with 36 percent of potential voters said to make their choice based on the internal affairs, knowing that 26 percent of them said did not back the government’s policy.

In a further sign that more challenges are still ahead, Nathalie Loiseau, a career diplomat and expert in EU affairs, on whom the head of state rely to appease more centrist voters, saw her campaign clouded with a series of missteps.

That included a denial of her student candidacy on a right-wing electoral list with several members of the extreme right, before dismissing it as “youthful mistake.”

In other gaffe, she said she “had been received like a gipsy” when she became director of the elite ENA administrative school.

“All of this has entirely obscured the Renaissance list’s political messaging. The problem is compounded by the fact that the list, hand-picked by Macron, is a politically little more than a motley crew even by En Marche standards,” wrote analysts at Eurointelligence, an internet-based economic news and analysis on Europe.

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