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Macron urged to scrap ailing party

Key allies of French President Emmanuel Macron have called for him to scrap his under-performing political party and replace it with a new one before elections next year.

Rumours that the 43-year-old head of state might launch a re-branded centrist political party were given fresh impetus on Monday by Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, a cabinet heavyweight, who came out in favour of a new “presidential party.”

“I’m in favour of creating a presidential party that will bring together everyone who supports Emmanuel Macron’s candidacy,” Le Maire told the BFM television channel.

Macron created his On the Move (“En Marche”) movement in April 2016, the year before presidential elections which he won as a political outsider.

The movement became the Republic on the Move (LREM) party after his victory and it secured a majority in parliamentary elections the same year.

But despite its early promise, which saw fresh faces from outside of politics and many more women take power, LREM has faced a series of defections as well as setbacks in local and regional elections over the last few years.

Stephane Sejourne, a key advisor to Macron who is expected to play a role in next year’s campaign, called on Sunday for the creation of a “large French democratic party” which would bring together supporters of the president for the 2022 parliamentary elections.

This idea was echoed by Francois Bayrou, a political veteran and key ally of Macron who heads the centrist MoDem party.

Speaking to Le Figaro newspaper, Bayrou also called Sunday for Macron’s backers to make a “decisive step towards unity.”

Commentators say creating a new, broader party would enable Macron to re-brand and bring in new figures from the centre-right and centre-left who are reluctant to associate themselves with the ailing LREM.

If he runs and wins, Macron will be desperate to avoid a hung or opposition-controlled parliament.

But a new party could also create infighting, above all over who would lead it and what it would stand for.

The latest poll by the Ifop-Fiducial group, out on Sunday, again showed Macron as favourite for re-election if he runs — something he has not yet officially declared.

The poll showed Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen emerging top in the first round of voting, with Macron winning the run-off between them with 56 percent versus 44 percent.

Analysts warn that the election is highly unpredictable, however, with the right-wing Republicans, left-wing Socialists, and environmentalist EELV parties yet to decide on their candidates.

France will vote in presidential elections in April next year and parliamentary ones in June.

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