French president-elect Emmanuel Macron’s party on Thursday unveiled more than 400 candidates who will stand in parliamentary elections in June, with half of them newcomers to politics and half of them women.
Pro-Europe centrist Macron, 39, was elected on Sunday after promising a “revolution” that would bring fresh faces into France’s stale political landscape and end the pattern of power alternating between traditional parties.
His newly renamed grassroots movement, La Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move), founded only 13 months ago, revealed 428 out of 577 candidates who will stand in parliamentary elections in June.
“We aim to build a majority for change and to win an absolute majority in parliament for La Republique en Marche (LREM) in the National Assembly,” party secretary general Richard Ferrand told a news conference.
Macron had promised that half would be newcomers, meaning a diverse range of figures from business, public service, activist groups and academia will get a chance to seek their first ever elected office.
“The promise of renewal is fulfilled,” Ferrand added at the news conference, adding that the average age of the candidates was 46 compared with 60 in the current national assembly.
On the tricky decision of whether to accept former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls, Ferrand said the party had not selected him, but would not field a rival against him in his constituency south of Paris.
Valls, a friend-turned-foe of Macron’s from their time in government from 2014-2016, had asked to be selected on Tuesday.
Other successful bids came from a woman fighter pilot who will run in eastern France and a man born in Rwanda who was adopted in France at the age of four and will contest a seat in Brittany.
The nomination process is a balancing act for Macron and represents major risks for his presidency, which will begin formally on Sunday when he takes over from Socialist Francois Hollande.
Without his own parliamentary majority, he will find it hard to push through his planned reforms of the labour market, pensions, unemployment benefits or education.
Many of his newcomers will also face seasoned politicians with long careers and local networks of activists and supporters.
And there is also the risk of scandal if anyone with a chequered history slips through the vetting process of the more than 19,000 applications sent online since January.
Ferrand said each candidate had been interviewed and had declared not to have a criminal record or to have been disqualified for any function in the past.
“Our movement has done everything possible to make sure that the candidates chosen respect our values,” Ferrand added.