France's Macron could lose lower house majority, polls show

French President Macron receives Argentine's counterpart Alberto Fernandez in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting with Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez (not pictured) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 13, 2022. Mohammed Badra/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS, June 1 (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron could fall short of an outright majority in France's National Assembly, which would pose a major hurdle for his planned second-term reforms, two polls showed, less than two weeks before the first round of voting.

An IFOP poll published late on Tuesday by broadcaster LCI showed that Macron's centrist camp would still be the strongest group in France's next lower house, winning 275 to 310 out of 577 seats, while an Elabe poll published on Wednesday projected 275 to 315 seatsfor the president.

However, they were the first polls to project that the president re-elected in April - whose lawmakers have until now controlled the National Assembly by a comfortable margin - could fall short of the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority.

Polling for legislative elections is especially tricky, with a runoff vote possible in each of the 577 constituencies if no candidate gets 50% in the first round - and different dynamics on the ground leading to different ah-hoc alliances depending on who reaches a second round.

But a minority government - an unusual scenario in France, and one that the two-round voting system is meant to prevent - would be a major setback for Macron and could complicate his ability to pass legislation, including his unpopular plan to raise the retirement age.

One option for Macron's coalition of centrist parties, recently re-branded "Ensemble!" (Together), would be to seek to further broaden their alliance by reaching out to the conservatives with a view to forming a coalition.

Macron's team has not commented on that possible scenario and insists it is targeting a majority.

In line with other recent opinion polls, the IFOP and Elabe polls see a new left-wing alliance under the leadership of far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon as the second-largest parliamentary group, winning between 170 to 205 seats.

The first round vote is due on Sunday, June 12, with runoffs a week later.

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Michel Rose and Alison Williams

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