Macron’s office denies reports he will trigger early presidential election

Emmanuel Macron’s office denied on Thursday reports that the French president plans to step down to prompt a fresh election.  The Figaro newspaper said Macron had made the shock announcement while speaking via videoconference to a handful of the largest donors to his centrist party who were gathered in London about two weeks ago, according to one of the people present.

The goal would be to reinforce his legitimacy as France emerges from its coronavirus lockdown, and to destabilise his opponents -- "I'm sure to win because there's no competition," Macron reportedly said.

Macron's Republic on the Move party lost its absolute majority in parliament last month after several MPs defected to form independent groups, a public reproach that was all the more jarring amid the government's calls for "unity" during the COVID-19 crisis. But Macron's office said: "We deny this report. The president never suggested his resignation. "He never took part in a videoconference with donors."

The Figaro report also cited an unnamed Elysee Palace official, who said: "We're entering a phase of reflection and consultations, where everything is being considered."

Macron's party is bracing for a humiliating setback in a second round of municipal elections set for 28 June , with opinion polls showing its candidates are unlikely to capture any major city, including Paris. Even Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is facing a tough battle to recover his seat as mayor of the northern port city of Le Havre.

Speculation has mounted that a cabinet shuffle is in the works as Macron seeks fresh momentum for the final two years of his term.

The president plans a televised national address on Sunday night, his fourth since the start of the coronavirus crisis.



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