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France

Macron denies reports of snap elections ahead of 4th Covid-19 address

French President Emmanuel Macron during an earlier COVID-19 address on television, 1 May 2020.
French President Emmanuel Macron during an earlier COVID-19 address on television, 1 May 2020. Capture d'écran

French President Emmanuel Macron does not plan to step down and trigger snap elections, his office said Thursday after reports he told top party donors he was considering the move. The reports come just ahead of Macron's fourth address to the nation on Sunday to announce the latest policies in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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The Figaro newspaper said Macron made the shock announcement while speaking via videoconference to a handful of the largest donors to his centrist party who were gathered in London about two weeks ago, according to one of the people present.

The goal would be to reinforce his legitimacy as France emerges from its coronavirus lockdown, and to destabilise his opponents. "I'm sure to win because there's no competition," Macron reportedly said.

Macron's Republic on the Move party lost its absolute majority in parliament last month after several MPs defected to form independent groups, a public reproach that was all the more jarring amid the government's calls for "unity" during the COVID-19 crisis.

But Macron's office said: "We deny this report. The president never suggested his resignation.

"He never took part in a videoconference with donors."

The Figaro report also cited an unnamed Elysee Palace official, who said: "We're entering a phase of reflection and consultations, where everything is being considered."

Decision

The official added that Macron's decision could come "in the coming weeks or months".

Macron's party is bracing for a humiliating setback in a second round of municipal elections set for June 28, with opinion polls showing its candidates are unlikely to capture any major city, including Paris.

Even Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is facing a tough battle to recover his seat as mayor of the northern port city of Le Havre.

Speculation has mounted that a cabinet shuffle is in the works as Macron seeks fresh momentum for the final two years of his term.

Televised national address

The coronavirus outbreak has effectively stalled his ambitious policy reforms, including the controversial pensions overhaul that sparked a huge strike last winter.

The president plans a televised national address on Sunday night, his fourth since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Another address could be made after the June 28 elections, to lay out Macron's projects through 2022, his office said Thursday.

 

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