Candidates line up to be part of Macron’s En Marche! movement
Party of France’s president-elect begins assembling new kind of democracy
Richard Ferrand, general secretary of the political movement, La Republique En Marche, gives a press conference in Paris on Thursday about the party’s candidates for the upcoming legislative elections. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/Reuters
President-elect Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! movement – renamed La République en Marche or LRM this week – received more than 19,000 applications from aspiring candidates for the French legislative elections on June 11th and 19th, the party’s secretary general Richard Ferrand announced on Thursday.
Several thousand additional applications were received after Mr Macron’s victory on Sunday night, Mr Ferrand said.
The selection committee, presided over by the conservative politician Jean-Paul Delevoye, spent 250 hours and conducted 1,000 interviews to whittle 19,000 dossiers down to 428 candidates ranging in age from 24 to 72.
An average 34 applications were received from each constituency, Mr Ferrand said; 71 per cent from men and 29 per cent from women. The committee selected 214 men and 214 women, 52 per cent of whom, like Mr Macron, were never previously elected to political office.
The party will hold a day-long seminar to train and advise its freshly minted candidates in Paris on Saturday.
Mr Macron is expected to name his prime minister on Sunday or Monday, after his inauguration on Sunday morning.
Mr Ferrand, a former socialist deputy who was the rapporteur for the “Macron Law” – introduced by Mr Macron when he was economy minister – that deregulated coach transport and Sunday trading, and Mr Delevoye, a former cabinet minister, senator and president of the French mayors’ association, are possible prime ministers.
Mr Macron is working hardest to win over politicians from the right, to preclude the possibility of a confrontational “cohabitation”, in which he would not have majority support in parliament. The initials of his new party, LRM, equal those of the neo-Gaullist Les Républicains, plus an “M” for “Macron”.
Although En Marche! had promised to unveil 577 candidates yesterday, it left 149 constituencies unprovided for. There were two reasons, Mr Ferrand said. It was taking longer to fill vacancies in overseas territories, and “there are a certain number of LR candidates who have said they want to help the president and participate in the dynamic of rassemblement (unity). They need a little time”.
LRM hopes to present some candidates from the moderate, centrist wing of LR, who supported the presidential candidacy of the former prime minister Alain Juppé.
Of the 428 candidates, 24 are outgoing socialist deputies. None so far are LR deputies, Mr Ferrand said. En Marche! rejected “quite a few” socialist parliamentarians, he added. The former prime minister Manuel Valls, who was Mr Macron’s boss for two years, was among those rejected.
Earlier this week, Mr Valls rashly declared his intention to stand on the En Marche! ticket, without first making sure that Mr Macron’s party wanted him.
The socialist party initiated procedures to expel Mr Valls, and Mr Macron was accused of trying to humiliate his former rival by leaving him in limbo.
Mr Macron may not have wanted the headache of accommodating Mr Valls’s irascible character. Perhaps he feared that the former prime minister would seek to control the LRM parliamentary group.
Mr Valls has already served more than three terms in the National Assembly, which disqualified him under En Marche! rules established last January, Mr Ferrand said. “We will not make him our candidate, but we will not put a candidate against him . . . You don’t slam the door in the face of a former prime minister who says, ‘I want to join you. I want to be useful’.”
So LRM will field only 576 candidates for 577 seats. The remaining 148 candidates will be announced before the final deadline of May 19th.
“The raison d’être of En Marche! is renewal of French political life,” Mr Ferrand said when he launched into his exposition on the party’s methodology and results. It was like watching a piece of Ikea furniture take form from a cardboard box; democracy in a kit.