France's Macron floats idea of snap election to reboot his presidency: local report

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) – French President Emmanuel Macron raised the possibility of triggering an early election in France on a call with London-based donors, Le Figaro newspaper said on Thursday (June 11).

A snap election could enable 42-year-old Macron to revitalise his presidency and give him a mandate to reshape the French economy once the Covid-19 pandemic has been contained. But it would also constitute a major risk for a president who still has two years left in his first term and has struggled repeatedly to connect with French voters.

A spokesman for the president declined to comment on the report.

Mr Macron was shaken last year by an unprecedented grassroots protest movement, the so-called Yellow Vests, and has been criticised for his handling of the pandemic, particularly during the early weeks.

If Mr Macron were to cut short his mandate, it would make him the first president not to complete his term since Charles de Gaulle, who ended his period in office by stepping down more than half a century ago in April 1969.

Mr De Gaulle, one of Mr Macron’s political models, regularly called the French to the ballot box for referendums as a way to reaffirm support for his policies and ultimately his presidency. But eventually one of those gambles backfired when he lost a plebiscite on Senate reform and was forced to resign soon after.

Mr Macron currently has the backing of 33 per cent of French voters, according to the pollster Elabe. He saw his support jump to 39 per cent in April but has since seen much of that bump fade away.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s approval rating has jumped five points to 39 per cent, the highest since December 2017.

Mr Macron is due to address the French nation on Sunday evening, for the fourth time since the country was hit by the outbreak which has killed almost 30,000 people in France.

An official investigation has been launched into the government’s management of the crisis. The president is expected to defend his strategy and speak about the next stages of his recovery plan.

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