May 15, 2018 / 10:22 PM / a year ago

Macron's party seen outperforming French rivals in 2019 EU elections - poll

French President Emmanuel Macron waits for a guest after a meeting with NATO's Secretary-General at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron’s party is seen easily outperforming its rivals in next year’s European Parliament elections, the first poll on the issue showed on Wednesday, which could give a boost to his EU reform plans.

The 40-year-old French president lacks clout in the European legislature, where some of his plans to reform the European Union may stand or fall, because his start-up party has no formal representation there.

His Republic on The Move party and center-right Modem allies are seen winning 27 percent of the votes to elect France’s EU lawmakers in May 2019, the Ifop poll for Valeurs Actuelles magazine showed.

That’s ahead of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front which, with 17 percent of the votes, would lose its current status as the biggest French parliamentary contingent in the European legislature.

Even if it came ahead in France, Macron’s party would still need to forge alliances with like-minded parties from other countries to crack the current dominance of the conservative EPP and Social-Democrat PES at the Strasbourg-based parliament.

Macron has seen his popularity drop sharply since his election a year ago, but he benefits from the opposition’s fragmentation and weaknesses.

The conservative The Republicans would win 15 percent of the votes, and the far-left France Unbowed 14 percent, with other parties in the low single digits.

When he first laid out his thinking on reforms, Macron talked about creating a sizeable separate budget for the 19 countries that share the single currency, appointing a single finance minister and converting the bloc’s emergency rescue fund into something more akin to a European monetary fund.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised Macron for his ideas but poured cold water on some of them, especially those that may result in Germany taking on more risk.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; editing by Michel Rose

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