The centrist camp of French President Emmanuel Macron heads into the week before a crucial second round of runoff voting in lower house elections with a razor-thin edge over the left, results showed after Sunday’s first round.
Macron’s Ensemble! alliance of centrist parties won 25.75% of the popular vote on Sunday, according to the interior ministry’s final tally, while Jean-Luc Melenchon’s NUPES bloc came in second with 25.66%.
Manuel Bompard, one of Melenchon’s most senior allies, himself running for a seat in Marseille, called into question the credibility of the result.
“Alert to new manipulation by Darmanin”, Bompard said in a Twitter post early on Monday, referring to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Bompard said the NUPES won some 200,000 more votes that were not accounted for in the final results, without presenting any evidence for his assertion.
Even though Marcon’s alliance is well-positioned to secure the largest number of seats by a wide margin, main polling institutes said the president could still lose his grip on parliament in the final round of voting.
According to a forecast by the pollster Elabe, Ensemble is set to win between 260 and 300 parliament seats – with an outright majority secured at 289 – while the left would secure 170-220 seats, a big increase from 2017.
Rival pollster Ipsos expected Ensemble to win 255 to 295 seats.
With rampant inflation driving up the cost of living and eroding wages, Macron has struggled to build on his re-election in April, with Melenchon casting him as a free-marketeer more intent on protecting the wealthy than hard-up families.