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French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday appealed to voters to give him a "solid majority" in Sunday's parliamentary polls, warning against adding "French disorder to global disorder".
Speaking as he departed from Paris to visit French troops dispatched to Romania in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Macron said that "the months ahead will be difficult" but called for people to back him in the name of "the higher national interest" and "common sense".
A strong showing by the left-wing NUPES (Nouvelle Union Populaire, Écologique et Sociale) coalition and gains by the far right made it likely that Macron's Ensemble ("Together") alliance could lose dozens of National Assembly seats in the second round of voting next Sunday.
"Emmanuel Macron has planned a trip abroad for three days ... after anaesthetising the campaign by refusing any debate, he saw the second round as a done deal," Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the NUPES coalition, told Le Parisien daily.
The incumbent had already been charged by opponents with sitting out April's presidential vote, bringing home a solid but unspectacular win against far-right Rassemblement National ("National Rally" or RN) chief Marine Le Pen.
Appearing to bet on a similar strategy in this month's parliamentary polls, Macron's Ensemble ("Together") alliance suffered in Sunday's first round while NUPES and the far right made gains.
Based on Sunday's results, Macron and his allies could emerge with 255-295 parliamentary seats, polling firms projected, well below the 345 they currently hold.
Should Macron fail to win the 289 seats that would give him an absolute majority, he would need to win over right-wing opponents such as the conservative Les Républicains for every legislative vote.
"In these troubled times, the choice you have to make this Sunday is more crucial than ever," Macron said Tuesday, calling on both people who voted for other candidates and who abstained to rally behind him.
While the electoral campaign has been dominated by inflation and other economic impacts of the war in Ukraine, the left is also trying to make it a referendum on Macron's plans to raise the minimum retirement age to 65 as part of a pensions overhaul.
But all sides have struggled to get voters excited about the polls, with just 47.5 percent turning out on Sunday, the lowest ever in first-round parliamentary elections.
Since reforms to the electoral calendar in the early 2000s, interest in the legislative vote – which follows on the heels of the presidential poll – has dwindled, as it has always given the head of state a handy majority.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)