French gov’t to stay the course even if far-right makes EU gains: PM

PARIS, May 16 (Xinhua) — French President Emmanuel Macron will continue his government’s reform drive, which has triggered recurrent street protests, even if the far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) Party takes the lead in the European Parliament elections, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said here on Thursday.

In an interview with state-run Franceinfo radio, Philippe said he did not think that the government would change course in case of far-right gains, arguing that “the government in general needs to be consistent and coherent … it’s a real condition of efficiency.”

“Does (the vote) totally change commitments the president made during the presidential campaign, … does it change the (parliamentary) majority’s determination, the whole logic of the government’s actions? The answer is no,” he said.

“Things are going to continue, to be stepped up for the good of the country because we have committed to do it,” he stressed.

Described as a contest between diametrically opposed views of Europe and France’s place in the world, the European elections will test Macron’s ability to stand up against rising nationalism at home and in neighboring countries, where anti-establishment parties could emerge as winners.

France’s centrist ruling Republic on the Move (LREM) party, whose list for the European elections is headed by former European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, is projected to win 23 percent of the vote, followed by the National Rally with 22 percent, an Elabe poll released on Wednesday showed.

In another survey conducted by Kantar-onepoint and released on Tuesday, the far-right party was ahead of the the LREM with 23 percent against 20 percent.

The last time the anti-EU and anti-immigration National Rally’s predecessor, the National Front, topped the EU ballot was in the 2014 European elections, with 24.85 percent support. The then ruling Socialist Party was third with 13.98 percent.

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