French Senate vote: Macron's first electoral setback?

While poor results in Sunday's vote would do little to stop the 39-year-old centrist from governing, they could potentially complicate his plans to push through constitutional reforms.

French Senate vote: Macron's first electoral setback?

World Bulletin / News Desk

Emmanuel Macron could suffer his first electoral setback in Senate elections on Sunday that follow a sharp slide in the young French leader's approval ratings.

Macron enjoyed only the shortest of honeymoons after storming to power in May, with a series of communication and policy missteps blamed for a plunge in ratings to around 40 percent. That however improved to 45 percent this month, according to two surveys published Sunday.

Half of the seats in the upper house are up for grabs in the indirect election, in which only elected lawmakers -- parliamentarians, mayors, local councillors -- can vote.

Polling stations opened at 0630 GMT (830am) and are due to close at 1530 GMT.

And while Macron's Republic on the Move (Le Republique En Marche, or LREM) party enjoyed a remarkable rise -- it won a landslide in the lower house in June, just 14 months after he founded it -- it has lost some momentum since.

"The election which hassles Macron," the Journal du Dimanche weekly said.

"The En Marche hurricane has not been at Category Five for a long time," said Philippe Raynaud, political science professor at Pantheon-Assas university, riffing on the storms that have been buffeting the Caribbean lately.

And three mass protests in a matter of weeks in Paris have drawn tens of thousands to the streets to demonstrate against Macron's proposed labour reforms.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said last week the party was "not expecting a landslide".

But where LREM succeeded in smashing the decades-old dominance of the right and left in the lower house National Assembly, analysts predict the Senate, dominated by conservatives since 2014, will continue to lean to the right.

Last Mod: 24 Eylül 2017, 12:03
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