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France's Macron says he won't quit if his party loses in snap election vote

CNBC
  • The snap election is a gamble for Macron, who would not lose his position as president if his party is defeated, but would see his domestic powers significantly diminished.
  • Macron on Sunday dissolved the French Parliament and called for snap legislative elections later in June, following a stinging defeat in the weekend's European Parliament elections to right-wing parties.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday affirmed that he would not step down if his party suffers in the recently called snap elections for France's Parliament.

The chance of that happening "never existed," Macron told journalists, calling the suggestion "absurd" and saying that he wanted to nip the idea in the bud, according to French reporting translated by CNBC.

Macron on Sunday dissolved the French Parliament and called for snap legislative elections later in June, following a stinging defeat in the weekend's European Parliament elections which saw major gains for right-wing parties in several countries including France, Germany and Austria.

Macron said that he "does not intend to campaign more than [he did] in 2017 and 2022" in the legislative elections and will leave that task to French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, along "with the leaders of the majority who are there at his side."

The snap election is a gamble for Macron, who has characterized the race as a choice for the French people between nationalism and demagoguery or liberal values and a strong, united European Union.

The European Parliament election results indicated waning enthusiasm among voters for the EU, which analysts say surfaced at least in part due to rising frustration over issues like immigration, living costs and crime.

"For me, who has always considered that a united, strong and independent Europe is good for France, it's a situation that I cannot come to terms with," Macron said Sunday.

France's right-wing National Rally (NR) party won a historic 31.37% of the French vote for the European Parliament, more than double the 14.6% won by Macron's Renaissance party.

A potential NR victory in France's snap elections later this month would not put Macron out of power — he will remain president, but would have to appoint a new prime minister from that party, severely diminishing his power over domestic affairs.

Analysts say Macron's move appears to be a tactical gamble, with the president hoping that either the French national vote will not reflect the European Parliament vote, or that the specter of a far-right victory will mobilize centrists to vote to prevent the NR from gaining more power.

Many observers also suspect that Macron believes that, even if the NR do win, the French public will be disappointed by their leadership by the time the presidential elections rolls around in 2027.

Some political commentators and critics have called the president's approach arrogant, ego-driven and reckless; and it apparently provoked rage among members of his own party.

In his national address announcing the decision to dissolve Parliament on Sunday, Macron said he had "heard" the electorate's concerns and would "not leave them unanswered ... France needs a clear majority to act in serenity and harmony."

The first round of voting will take place on June 30, with a second one due on July 7.

— CNBC's Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.

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