March 28, 2017 / 2:16 PM / 2 years ago

France's Macron confident of winning parliamentary majority

PARIS (Reuters) - French centrist Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he expected his untested new party to be able to form a parliamentary majority after legislative elections in June if he wins the presidency in May.

The former investment banker is favourite to win the presidential race, with polls showing him on track to defeat far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round on May 7.

But he has never held elected office and the En Marche! (Onwards!) political movement he created less than a year ago has never taken part in an election.

That has prompted opponents to cast doubt on his ability to win a majority in the lower-house National Assembly, which would hamper his ability to push through planned reforms including tax cuts and overhauls of the pension and welfare systems.

But Macron told a news conference he expected French voters to be “consistent”.

“If they choose our project, there is no doubt the French will follow up and will give us the means to implement it,” he said.

The 39-year-old said the same doubts had emerged in 1958 about former leader Charles de Gaulle, who did not come from an established party before being elected, and Francois Mitterrand, whose Socialist party had never won power before 1981.

Macron plans to field candidates in all 577 constituencies in the legislative election, with half of them having no previous parliamentary experience. He expects the remainder to be people switching from other parties, and half of the total will be women, he said.

“We need to do away with this political class which is all too often made of men over 50 who never had a proper job,” he said, adding that 14,000 candidates had applied online and that he may reveal a first batch in the coming weeks.

However, Macron said his prime minister will be an experienced politician with knowledge of parliamentary work.

He also issued a warning to the raft of established politicians who have in recent weeks come out in support of his bid and may hurt his image as the candidate of change.

He said he would not reward these politicians with either jobs or a say in his policies.

“I’m suspicious of the hidden agenda of politicians,” he said. “An endorsement is worth one ballot, not a selection as a future MP, not a position in the campaign, or changes in our manifesto.”

Slideshow (3 Images)

People close to Macron have said one risk he is trying to avoid is a massive influx of support from Socialist grandees. Any endorsement from outgoing President Francois Hollande or former premier Manuel Valls would cast him as the candidate of the unpopular outgoing administration.

“It would be toxic,” one person close to him said.

Valls is expected to announce on Wednesday morning who he will pick between Macron and Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Adrian Croft and Mark Trevelyan

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