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French parliament opens as test looms for Macron

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 02:00

France's new government will get down to work after the opening session of the National Assembly. But as David Pollard reports, planned new public spending cuts, needed to meet the 3 percent EU deficit target, may prove as unpopular as President Macron's plans for labour reform.

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A new parliament for a new president. France's Emmanuel Macron takes power with a landslide majority in the National Assembly. Support coming from the bottom up .... and from the top down. As one former prime minister confirms he's leaving his long-time political home - to join that majority. (SOUNDBITE) (French) NEWLY ELECTED MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND FORMER PRIME MINISTER, MANUEL VALLS, SAYING: "I'm leaving the Socialist Party, the Socialist Party is leaving me. I joined it 37 years ago..... Now, I want something else - success for the presidency, success for France." But success, possibly, at a price .... Victory in this month's elections enough to guarantee Macron support inside parliament for ambitious labour reforms. Not necessarily outside. (SOUNDBITE) (French) 87 YEAR-OLD RETIRED TELECOMS TECHNICIAN AND CGT UNION MEMBER, HENRI RENARD, SAYING: "I belong to the generations that built labour rights, but those rights are being damaged. Taking us back to the 19th century isn't a good thing." If that's already an old grievance, austerity could be about to become a new one. France may need across-the-board public spending cuts, according to its finance minister - to comply with EU deficit targets. Bruno Le Maire adding: 'we shall see on Thursday' - when national audit officials publish their estimates. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEIL WILSON, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, ETX CAPITAL, SAYING: "I think Macron has a big problem. There's a lot of sort of positive sentiment ... But equally there's a lot of people didn't turn out to vote, he didn't win a significant proportion of the first vote in a presidential election, and I think there's going to be a bit of confrontation now and it's going to be a bit of a test of will to see how things go for the French economy." The other major parties - France's Republicans and Socialists - are left deeply fragmented by Macron's election wins. But among his own deputies, fewer than one in ten served in a previous parliament. That in itself another question for a new president - over how they'll cast their votes on deeply divisive issues.

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French parliament opens as test looms for Macron

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 02:00