France voted Sunday in the second-round runoff of legislative elections that saw a new left-wing alliance threatening President Emmanuel Macron’s majority in the National Assembly, the lower house of the country’s Parliament.

Voters trickled out of Neuilly Plaisance’s city hall, shopping carts in tow. After casting their ballots, their next stops were the bakery and Sunday market to finish their errands.

Gregory, an electrician in this eastern Paris suburb, had cast his ballot for France’s new leftist coalition, known as NUPES. He said French President Emmanuel Macron is breaking everything the country has worked for when it comes to social and environmental issues.

Pre-vote polls suggested Macron’s centrist alliance, Ensemble, or Together, would earn the largest share of votes — but not necessarily a ruling majority. The NUPES was hoping for an upset victory that would force Macron to pick its leader, far-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon, as prime minister.

Michelle, another Neuilly Plaisance voter, said she believes that scenario would be a disaster. Certainly not the NUPES, she said. If they win, France will be in a mess.

Retiree Raymond offered a similar reaction. He said he doubts the feasibility of programs pushed by the leftist coalition. “Where’s the money to pay for them?” he asked.

Macron won a second term against his far-right rival Marine Le Pen just two months ago. But the abstention rate was high, and many French are underwhelmed by their president. Some criticized Macron for not campaigning enough for this crucial parliamentary vote, where this time his main rival was the far left.

These elections for the powerful National Assembly, or lower house of Parliament, will be critical in determining whether Macron can push through fiscal and retirement reforms that mark his second term agenda. The NUPES coalition has vowed to block them and enact tougher environmental policies.

Like the April presidential elections, these legislative elections have also been marked by high voter abstention.

 

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