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Macron’s party at risk of wipeout, say election projections

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Macron’s party at risk of wipeout, say election projections

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President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance could be facing a wipeout in snap parliamentary elections after France’s leftwing parties struck a unity pact.

New projections suggested only around 40 of Macron’s MPs would qualify for the second round vote on July 7, in run-off races that would predominantly be fought between candidates fielded by the far right or the leftwing bloc for the 589-strong assembly, according to two studies for Le Figaro and BFM TV.

The findings suggest Macron’s gamble to dissolve parliament and hold early elections in the hope of stopping the rise of the far-right Rassemblement National party could backfire badly.

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They also underscore how the outcome of the two-round vote on June 30 and July 7 could be determined by the left.

Four normally fractious left-wing parties on Thursday night struck a deal to run as an alliance, with an agreement on candidates and a joint programme. It was endorsed by former president François Hollande, a socialist.

The accord did not specify who would be their candidate for prime minister. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed, LFI) party and a deeply polarising figure in French politics, hinted earlier on Thursday that he wanted to the job.

LFI secured the largest proportion of candidates on the joint list with the centre-left, Socialists, Greens, and Communists.

If the left parties had ran multiple candidates for each seat, Macron’s centrist alliance would have had better chances of piercing through to the second round. To qualify for a run-off, a candidate needs to have won the backing of 12.5 per cent of registered voters.

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By extrapolating results from last week’s European parliamentary election to the upcoming first round in the French legislative poll, RN would come first in 362 seats and the left would come top in 211, according to Le Figaro’s calculations.

Some analysts cautioned against extrapolating from European parliament elections, which take place in a single round according to proportional representation. They often have low turnout and are used as a protest vote against the government.

Mathieu Gallard, a pollster at Ipsos, said predicting seat share at this stage was “just a matter of intuition”. Candidates have not yet been selected and incumbent MPs often command considerable local loyalty. Margins of error for voting intentions across two rounds, the close contests in many constituencies and doubts over turnout made the “outcome highly uncertain at this stage”.

Still, the forecasts add to a series of gloomy surveys for Macron’s camp this week, suggesting they could lose at least half of their 250 seats in the assembly.

Asked about the difficult poll numbers, an adviser to Macron’s alliance said: “There is a narrow path forward, and we’ll see how dynamics shift in the coming days. It is hard but not impossible.”

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An Elabe poll for BFM and La Tribune Dimanche put the RN on 31 per cent (with 4 for the rival far-right party Reconquête), the leftwing alliance on 28 per cent, Macron’s centrist alliance on 18 per cent and the centre-right Les Républicains on 6.5 per cent.

The adviser said the 18 per cent for Macron’s alliance suggested it had new momentum after Sunday’s European vote, when it scored 15 per cent. The adviser pointed to polling showing that almost two-thirds of the French public supported Macron’s decision to dissolve parliament.

Elabe projects the RN winning between 220 and 270 seats, the left 150-190 and Macron’s alliance 90-130. The centre right would take 30-40.

The opinion polls this week suggest the mostly likely scenario is a hung parliament, but if the RN wins by a big margin, it will have a claim on the office of prime minister and the right to form a government.

Video: Why the far right is surging in Europe | FT Film
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More Democratic lawmakers call for Joe Biden to withdraw from election race

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More Democratic lawmakers call for Joe Biden to withdraw from election race

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Eight more Democratic lawmakers, including a third US senator, have called for Joe Biden to withdrawn from this year’s White House presidential race, deepening the peril for his campaign for re-election.

In a joint statement on Friday morning, four US House members — Jared Huffman, Mark Pocan, Chuy Garcia and Marc Veasey — said it was time for the 81-year-old president to “pass the torch to a new generation of Democratic leaders”.

“We must face the reality that widespread public concerns about your age and fitness are jeopardising what should be a winning campaign,” the politicians added. House Democrats Sean Casten, Greg Landsman and Zoe Lofgren also called on Biden to drop out on Friday morning.

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Meanwhile, New Mexico senator Martin Heinrich became the third Democratic member of the upper chamber of Congress to urge Biden to drop out, joining Jon Tester of Montana and Vermont’s Peter Welch.

“This moment in our nation’s history calls for a focus that is bigger than any one person,” Henrich said, adding it was “in the best interests of our country” for the president to end his campaign.

Biden insisted on Friday that he would remain in the race, saying in a statement he “look[ed] forward to getting back on the campaign trail next week to continue exposing the threat of Donald Trump’s Project 2025 agenda”.

The president has been isolating at his holiday home in Delaware since testing positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. White House doctor Kevin O’Connor said on Friday that Biden’s symptoms had “improved meaningfully” and he would continue taking Paxlovid, the antiviral drug.

The new wave of lawmakers calling for Biden to quit comes as Democratic party grandees such as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as the megadonors crucial to funding his campaign, heap pressure on him behind the scenes.

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The Financial Times reported on Thursday that donors and other senior party operatives believe Biden is very close to a decision to exit.

Chris Coons, the Democratic senator and close Biden ally, said on Friday that the president was getting the necessary advice to make a decision about his political future.

“I am confident he is hearing what he needs to hear,” he said while speaking on a panel at the Aspen Security Forum.

But Coons — who insisted Biden was “strong” and “capable” enough to carry on — acknowledged the unease within the Democratic party, saying: “There is a lot of concern and anxiety because the stakes are so significant.”

The latest interventions came a day after Trump formally accepted the Republican party’s nomination for president, less than a week after he narrowly escaped assassination in Pennsylvania.

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The former president has surged ahead of Biden in the polls despite his recent criminal convictions, building a lead across the crucial swing states that will decide November’s vote.

About 30 members of Congress have now said Biden needs to drop his re-election bid, a view shared privately by many more who have not yet gone public.

However, some Democrats, including many progressives, have supported him. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used an Instagram livestream in the early hours of Friday to fiercely defend the president and accuse “donors” and “elites” of trying to cast him and vice-president Kamala Harris aside.

Biden’s disastrous debate performance against Trump last month sparked panic in the Democratic party over his age and fitness for office. After testing positive for Covid in Nevada he was seen apparently struggling to ascend a staircase into Air Force One to return home.

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Escaped prisoner found in Georgia 30 years later, using the identity of a dead child

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Escaped prisoner found in Georgia 30 years later, using the identity of a dead child

Steven Johnson escaped from Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem, Ore., during a prison work detail in 1994. He was arrested on Tuesday in Macon, Ga., where had had assumed the identity of a dead child.

Oregon Department of Corrections/Bibb County Sheriff’s Office


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Oregon Department of Corrections/Bibb County Sheriff’s Office

An Oregon fugitive that escaped from prison 30 years ago was arrested at his apartment on Tuesday afternoon in Macon, Ga. According to authorities, he had been living under the identity of a dead child.

Steven Craig Johnson, 70, fled from a prison work detail at the Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem, Ore., in 1994. He was serving a state prison sentence for three counts of sex abuse and one count of attempted sodomy.

Johnson was listed on the Oregon Department of Corrections “Most Wanted” list. He was described as a pedophile who “presents a high probability of victimizing pre-teen boys.”

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At the time of his arrest, Johnson was using the alias William Cox. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Johnson stole the identity of a child who died in Texas in 1962 after obtaining the child’s birth certificate and Social Security number in 1995.

Johnson secured a Georgia driver’s license in 1998, and had been living in Macon since 2011. The Oregon Corrections Department requested the U.S. Marshals to take on the search for Johnson in 2015. After pursuing multiple leads, new technology used by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service helped uncover new leads this year.

The facility Johnson escaped from was a minimum-security prison with no fence around it. Mill Creek prison closed in June 2021 under an order from former Gov. Kate Brown.

Johnson was booked into Bibb County Jail after arrest. He currently awaits extradition to Oregon.

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Video: Trump Accepts the Republican Nomination

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Video: Trump Accepts the Republican Nomination

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Trump Accepts the Republican Nomination

Former President Donald J. Trump concluded the Republican National Convention on Thursday with a speech that ran for more than an hour and a half.

[music: “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood] I am running to be president for all of America, not half of America. Because there is no victory in winning for half of America. So tonight, with faith and devotion, I proudly accept your nomination for President of the United States. Thank you. We will very quickly make America great again. Thank you very much.

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