'It's like on TV': rookie Macron lawmaker makes debut in French parliament

PARIS (Reuters) - A young tech entrepreneur on Tuesday became the first of an army of rookie lawmakers loyal to President Emmanuel Macron to enter parliament, receiving his beginner’s toolkit as he walked through its majestic doors.

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

“It’s like on TV, though it does look a little smaller,” 43-year-old Sylvain Maillard, one of only four lawmakers elected in the first round, told reporters as he admired the marbled halls and clutched a slim leather briefcase.

Inside the case was a map of parliament, details on the location of the bar and the hairdresser’s opening hours, a sash in the colors of the French tricolor and a copy of the country’s constitution.

Maillard will not be the only newcomer to the 577-seat National Assembly. Macron’s promise to renew French politics was founded on a commitment that half his candidates would be political novices, rare in a country where political careers typically span decades.

Pollsters project the year-old Republic On The Move party will win a crushing majority, perhaps three quarters of the lower house.

“It’s going to take a little time getting used to,” said Maillard, who has served as a municipal councillor in a Paris district since 2014. He added he hoped to lean on the experience of the party’s seasoned veterans.

“They will be like older brothers, they will help us out,” Maillard said of the few veterans expected among their ranks.

Officials inside Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) acknowledge that keeping control of discipline in a party with so many novices will pose challenges, and plan a training seminar ahead of the June 27 opening of parliament.

“It’ll be like vocational training,” Maillard said.

He said he would keep working a day each week for the electronic component distribution firm he co-founded and runs, with a target turnover of 25 million euros ($28.01 million).

“That will keep me grounded, to continue having to pay my employees, do payslips, get told off by clients, it’s important,” he said as parliament staff walked with him to sign administrative forms.

While past parliaments were traditionally largely made of career politicians, lawyers and doctors, Macron’s candidates include business people, engineers and even a former bullfighter making it to the June 18 run-offs.

His party rejects opponents’ suggestions they will lack experience, and says they be representative of French society.

“It’s not just about the numbers (of LREM lawmakers) but about having the right expertise,” Maillard said.

“We have no blank check (from voters), we’re here to get on with the job.”

Writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Richard Lough and Tom Heneghan