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France vote: low turnout mars Macron's reform bid

Friday, June 16, 2017 - 01:49

France's new president, Emmanuel Macron is expected to obtain a massive parliamentary majority after a second round of voting this weekend. But, as David Pollard reports, shrinking voter turnout could still make it hard for him to push through an ambitious programme of reform.

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Many believe it's a new political dawn in France. Here in Abbeville, they say it's time to put politics to bed. (SOUNDBITE) (French) JOURNALIST, VANESSA LAMARRE, SAYING: "Maybe people sick of it. It's been a long campaign, we had the party primaries, the presidential elections, the parliamentary elections. They say 'What difference will it make?'" (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE, FRANCOIS RUFFIN, SAYING: "They don't believe in politics anymore. They've been betrayed for 30 years. Every time the left gets into power they implement right-wing policies..." This was the scene in polling stations last Sunday. More than one in two stayed away for the first round of parliamentary elections. Even fewer are expected to turn out for this weekend's second round. Emmanuel Macron's party could win over 80 per cent of the available seats - but it still may not be enough ... For a new president to push through workplace reform. SOUNDBITE (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "Previous French presidents have identified the problem but haven't necessarily had the the strength to push through with it, when protest, public protests have come to pass. And I think therein lies the challenge. It's not so much the parliamentarians he needs to convince but it may well be the French farmers, industries, unions, who will provide the sterner challenge than a parliamentary opposition over the next five years." The curtain about to open then on potentially a difficult first few months. Macron's plans to cut tens of thousands of public sector jobs and make it easier to hire and fire ... Versus France's powerful unions. Though as the former economy minister who oversaw the previous government's reform programme, he already knows what's in store. That attempt led to six months of street protest across the country - just last year.

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France vote: low turnout mars Macron's reform bid

Friday, June 16, 2017 - 01:49