Emmanuel Macron ‘dangerously weakened’ as fears of election disaster grow

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The French President is splitting opinion ahead of the 2022 French elections, in which he will once again face off with far right candidate Marine Le Pen. Mr Macron has sought to pass new security bills in the country, aimed at stopping extremism, however they have led to huge protests. Many have claimed that Mr Macron is drifting towards the right in an attempt to avoid electoral disaster, a move perhaps inspired by his party’s disappointing performance in last May’s local elections. La Republique En Marche! was defeated in the Paris mayor’s race and Green Party candidates won in several other major cities, turning French local elections into a warning for the President.

An official inside the party: “He wasn’t liked. Neither by the public, nor by party members.

“The time has come when you have to say it like it is.”

On top of this, a minister said: “We’ve done almost everything we shouldn’t have done. It could end up as a handy guide: ‘How to lose an election’.”

In areas where En Marche! had previously succeeded, the Green Party surged – taking about 49 percent in a three-way race. Macron-backed Agnes Buzyn languished in third with about 13 percent, behind conservative candidate Rachida Dati.

Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye called the results a “disappointment,” partly blaming “internal divisions” within Mr Macron’s party.

The vote plunged the future of French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe into uncertainty, leading to his resignation.

The defeat also led to speculation in the French press over Mr Macron’s future.

Left-wing publication Le Nouvel Observateur du Monde said that Mr Macron was “dangerously weakened” amid growing dissent in his party.

They said: “The President is starting the new phase of deconfinement with fear in his heart, because the situation has become threatening.

“First of all there is the sudden emergence of a group of LREM dissenters in the National Assembly, reminiscent of the chaotic end of the presidency of François Hollande, who at the time was considered weakened because of a handful of unruly leftists.

“Will that scenario repeat itself today? … [The split in the party] points to a decomposition of the political landscape in the coming months, without the President being able to soften even the slightest shocks. He could hardly be more vulnerable.”

Le Point compared the division in Mr Macron’s party with the dissent in the socialist party in France – preceding the downfall of former President Francois Hollande.

Last February, Bruno Bonnell, a member of the French Assembly and En Marche! ally, claimed people in France and Mr Macron’s party “literally hate” the President and even hinted at electoral losses in 2022.

He said that this feeling had been transferred to En Marche! candidates, the Financial Times reported.

Mr Bonnell said: “The biggest risk is that while we would have Macron leading the country in 2022, it would be with a completely different make-up of the National Assembly and the Senate.

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“But that is the price to be paid for the development of democracy.”

Some in the party fear that they will suffer defeat to Ms Le Pen’s National Rally next year.

A poll conducted online by Harris Interactive and published three weeks ago showed that if a final-round presidential runoff were held today, Ms Le Pen would garner 48 percent while Macron would be re-elected with 52 percent.

This is a record high for the nationalist figurehead, meaning 2022 could be the closest election in years.

Academic and journalist Paul Taylor highlighted how Mr Macron’s economic woes during the coronavirus pandemic could cost him the presidency in 2022.

In fact, he claimed in his article for Politico late last year that the French President “will need an economic miracle, and a lot of luck with the pandemic, to keep his crown”.

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