Tensions over French president-elect Emmanuel Macron’s bid to redraw France’s political map burst into the open today as a key ally was left furious ahead of crucial parliamentary elections next month. Macron angered fellow centrist Francois Bayrou and faced mockery from his opponents after his La Republique En Marche (REM, The Republic on the Move) party unveiled more than 400 candidates for crucial parliamentary elections in June. “It’s a big recycling operation for the Socialist party,” Bayrou told L’Obs magazine, adding bitterly that candidates from his MoDem party had been offered only 35 constituencies instead of the 120 he expected. Bayrou, a veteran centrist and presidential candidate, threw his and MoDem’s support behind Macron at the end of February at a crucial time when the 39-year-old president-elect’s campaign needed new momentum.
“When I offered him my support, he was at 18 per cent,” Bayrou added. Macron, who will be inaugurated on Sunday, has promised to refresh France’s parliament and his party unveiled 428 out of 577 candidates yesterday. Half of them have never held elected office, including a retired female bullfighter and a star mathematician, and half of them are women. The initial reaction from three out of four voters was positive, a survey published today by the Harris Interactive polling group suggested. “Probably the biggest success of Emmanuel Macron is having motivated so many people who were outside of politics to have committed themselves to try to renew things,” his spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said today. But as well as angering Bayrou, REM was forced to correct its list after around 10 people said they had not agreed to stand for the party or had never applied to be a candidate.
One was Mourad Boudjellal, the wealthy president of Toulon rugby club, who said that while he was flattered about being approached, “it is not my ambition” to enter politics. The vice-president of the far-right National Front, Florian Philippot, accused Macron of “amateurism.” The parliamentary selection process is seen as a tricky and risky balancing act for Macron, who will take over from widely unpopular Socialist Francois Hollande. Without his own parliamentary majority, the former investment banker will find it hard to push through his planned reforms of the labour market, pensions, unemployment benefits or education. Macron, a former economy minister in Hollande’s government, has so far failed to attract centrist members of the rightwing Republicans party, but still believes some will cross over before next Wednesday.