Paris (AFP) – President Emmanuel Macron was poised to forge ahead with pro-EU, business-friendly reforms Monday after his centrist party redrew France’s political map with a resounding victory in parliamentary elections.
Although it fell short of a predicted landslide, Macron’s Republic on the Move (REM) and its centrist ally MoDem won 350 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly after Sunday’s runoff vote. The result also means REM can if necessary govern without the support of MoDem, which won 42 seats.
The election was being closely watched in Europe and around the world to see if France’s youngest-ever leader would secure a mandate to push through his pro-EU reform agenda.
The new body will be nearly six years younger on average, have a record 224 women lawmakers, and will be strikingly more varied in background if politically less experienced.
The trailblazing party that 39-year-old Macron founded just 14 months ago has caused a political earthquake even if the winning score was considerably lower than the 470 seats predicted by some pre-vote surveys.
“A profoundly renewed political generation takes over the reins of legislative power,” wrote editorialist Alexis Brezet in the right-leaning daily Le Figaro.
Macron’s confident start at home, where he has concentrated on trying to restore the lost prestige of the president, and his bold action on the international stage has inspired a raft of positive headlines.
Macron wants to use his majority in parliament to pursue his agenda of loosening labour laws and overhauling France’s social security system.
He has already had little pushback on his stated intention to use executive orders to push through reforms without parliamentary debate — though street protests over the erosion of cherished workers’ rights such as those seen last year are considered likely.
The parliamentary boost also strengthens Macron’s hand on the European stage as the EU heads into negotiations on Britain’s departure from the bloc.