By Emmanuel Jarry and Michel Rose
PARIS Emmanuel Macron's start-up political party on Thursday announced a list of 428 candidates for French parliamentary elections in June, just over half of them from civil society and one half of them women, fulfilling promises from his presidential campaign.The partial list - his Republic on the Move party had said previously that it would stand in every one of the National Assembly's 577 seats - represented Macron's first stab at creating a parliamentary power base that will help him push forward with reforms once in office.Party secretary general Richard Ferrand said the remaining number of candidates were a matter for further discussion and that the party was leaving the door open to politicians of other political stripes to come over to Macron's side."We want to leave them time until Wednesday to say so," he told a news conference."We want to build a majority for change and therefore obtain for Republic on the Move an absolute majority in the National Assembly," Ferrand said, adding that they had combed through more than 19,000 applications.Macron's election in a victory over the National Front's Marine Le Pen on Sunday has destroyed the dominance of the centre-left and centre-right parties which have ruled over French politics for nearly 60 years.SPACE FOR EX-PM VALLS
Macron officially takes power as president on Sunday.
He is building a party structure from the wreckage of the Socialists, whose candidate pooled only 6 percent of the presidential vote in the first round, and the badly-bruised moderate wing of The Republicans conservative party whose candidate was also eliminated early on.The list issued by Republic on the Move on Thursday included 24 outgoing Socialist lawmakers and no conservative ones.Nevertheless, most of the 52 percent who came from civil society were completely unknown to the posse of journalists going through the names on Thursday afternoon. Macron plans to put up candidates across France's 577 constituencies, but Ferrand announced an exception for Socialist ex-prime minister Manuel Valls, a pro-business politician close to Macron on economic policy, and who earlier this week said he wanted to help the 39-year-old ex-banker achieve a majority.Valls had been elected too many times in the past to fit the criteria the party has laid out, Ferrand said.
However, he said the party would not be putting a candidate up against him, thereby offering a better chance of victory to a man who could be useful to Macron in the future.CIVIL SOCIETY COMPONENT
Ferrand said 52 percent of the candidates had never held elected office before and that their average age was 46 year old.The list included Hollande's communications advisor Gaspard Gantzer and former environment junior minister Barbara Pompili, an ex-Greens lawmaker, but few well-known names - reflecting the emphasis Macron had placed on building a party on civil society.
To qualify, would-be candidates, including total newcomers to politics, filled extensive on-line applications with CVs and explanatory letters for pre-screening and follow-up interviews, according to local media interviews with some of them.Catherine Fabre, a middle-aged business management lecturer at Bordeaux University, told BFM TV earlier she was in the running and wanted to shake things up in a National Assembly which was, in her words, dominated by too many middle-aged white men. Macron's victory was seen across the world as a victory for supporters of European Union integration over Le Pen's anti-EU proposals which included ditching the euro currency.But he now needs to consolidate a win in which a good part of those who backed him in the playoff against Le Pen came from political parties that voted to stop her rather than to put him in the driving seat for the next five years.Socialist President Francois Hollande is due to formally hand over power on Sunday to Macron at an Elysee Palace ceremony at which he will be accompanied in all likelihood by his wife and future First Lady, Brigitte Macron.Several senior members of his Socialist Party have already announced plans to launch new movements, inspired by divisions in the party ranks and perhaps by Macron's success.After Sunday's handover, Macron will name an interim team to run day-to-day affairs pending the outcome of the legislative elections which take place in two rounds on June 11 and 18. (Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Callus)
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Published Date: May 11, 2017 10:16 pm | Updated Date: May 11, 2017 10:16 pm