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Emmanuel Macron sidekick 'desperately tried to talk him out of calling snap election'

Emmanuel Macron’s decision to dissolve the French parliament and call a snap general election has prompted widespread consternation among allies – with Prime Minister Gabriel Attal understood to have tried to talk him out of the idea.

The legislative elections, which will take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7, follow a disappointing performance by Mr Macron’s Renaissance party, with Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party well ahead.

The move represents a high-stakes gamble, with French broadcaster BFMTV suggesting Mr Attal had in effect offered himself as a scapegoat.

According to BFMTV reporter Anne Saurat-Dubois, the 35-year-old, who was only appointed at the start of the year, said: “I’m the fuse. Let me play my role as fuse.

“It’s an electoral failure, I’m resigning. I’m the leader of the majority, I’m resigning, but there’s no need to dissolve the National Assembly.”

Mr Macron is understood to have told him: “No, you are the best person to lead this campaign.”

Mr Attal is believed to have campaigned vociferously but unsuccessfully to change Mr Macron’s mind, reported BFMTV.

Yael Braun-Pivet, served as France’s minister for overseas development under Elisabeth Borne, mr Attal’s predecessor, also appeared to be unhappy with the decision.

She told France 2: “There was another path, that of a coalition, of a government pact, the President consciously considered that this path did not exist.

“I take note of this decision.”

Left-wing deputy Francois Ruffin did not mince his words, telling BFMTV: “We have a madman at the head of state, an arsonist of the Republic.

“Why do we have a rise in the far right like this? The truth of Emmanuel Macron’s record is that he is opening the door to power to Marine Le Pen and the far right.”

The announcement came after the first projected results from France put the far-right National Rally party well ahead in the European Union’s parliamentary elections, handing a humiliating loss to Macron’s pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, nationalist party is likely to get between 31 and 32 percent of the votes, a historic result which left Renaissance lagging well behind on about 15 percent.

Macron himself was not a candidate in the EU elections and his term as president still runs for three more years.

He insisted his decision reflected his “confidence in our democracy, in letting the sovereign people have their say.”

He added: “In the next few days, I’ll be saying what I think is the right direction for the nation. I’ve heard your message, your concerns, and I won’t leave them unanswered.”

In latest legislative elections in 2022, Macron’s centrist party won the most seats but lost its majority at the National Assembly, forcing lawmakers into political manoeuvring to pass bills.

With Sunday’s decision, he is taking a massive risk with a move that could backfire and increase the chances of Le Pen, twice defeated by the 43-year-old in Presidential elections, eventually taking his job

A scenario in which an opposition party would eventually win a parliament majority could lead to a fraught power-sharing situation called “cohabitation,” with Macron to name a prime minister with different views.

Ms Le Pen, who head the National Rally group at the National Assembly, “welcomed” Macron’s move.

She said: “We’re ready for it. We’re ready to exercise power if the French people place their trust in us in these future legislative elections. We’re ready to turn the country around, ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority.”

France is electing 81 members of the European Parliament, which has 720 seats in total.


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