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© Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron receives a guest at Paris’ Elysee Palace on June 10, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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By Michel Rose

PARIS (Reuters – French voters will go to polls Sunday to decide whether President Emmanuel Macron wins a working majority or not in the second round. This vote will determine whether he gets the backing he needs to push through his reform agenda.

Macron will be facing an aggressive challenge less than two months following his re-election. A united left-wing bloc polling shows could strip Macron of a majority, even though it doesn’t take over parliament.

According to government insiders, a poor showing is expected for Macron’s coalition “Ensemble” in Sunday’s first round. A record number of voters will abstain and be angry at rising living costs. Jean-Luc Melenchon from the hard-left hopes his bloc can capitalize.

Macron’s ability, to pass his reform agenda including the pension reform that he believes is necessary to return public finances to normalcy is in danger. Instead, his left-leaning opponents are pushing for a reduction in the retirement age and launching a massive spending spree.

“We expect a difficult first round. A government source said to Reuters that voters will be looking for a way to signal their support. But we are counting on the second round of voting to demonstrate that Melenchon’s program is fantasy.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, initial projections indicated that Macron would be able to win a majority in the parliament. This is normal since his term as president was reduced to just five years.

The president, however, has kept his profile low since the election. It took two weeks for a government to be formed and Melenchon only made occasional outings. Melenchon is now building momentum by forging an alliance between the Socialists, Melenchon and his France Unbowed group.

According to projections, Macron and his allies (including the former prime minister Edouard Philippe’s new party) could not win a majority of 289 seats by as many 40 seats. This would mean he needs to openly engage with rival parties.

There are 14 Macron ministers who compete in local elections and may lose their jobs if they do not win.

Clement Beaune is Macron’s Europe minister and is currently running for office in an east Paris area where the Left has performed well.

Beaune is 40 years old and was once an adviser to the Elysee Palace on Brexit matters. She has since been a close friend of President Trump and one of only a few aides that has achieved a high profile both nationally and internationally.

According to a source from the government, “That would have been a terrible loss.”

Beaune answered a question about defeat in Paris’ Marais District. “Voters will decide.”

Polls indicate that Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the Far Right, could be elected to a northern seat by winning over half of the votes.

(Reporting, writing and editing by Michel Rose; Elizabeth Pineau provides additional reporting; David Gregorio edits.

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