Macron a "Renaissance" man in the face of parliamentary elections
Re-elected French President seeks a center-right coalition to counter Marine Le Pen's and the left-wing alliance's threats.
As the French president seeks a controlling majority in parliament for his second term, Emmanuel Macron's centrist party, La République en Marche, is changing its name to Renaissance.
The party's rebranding was unveiled just as campaigning for the June parliamentary elections was set to begin.
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What is Macron up to?
Macron is trying to secure a legislative majority against a new alliance of left-wing groups led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, as well as Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally, which is looking to expand its limited number of seats.
At a news conference in Paris, the party's secretary general, Stanislas Guérini, explained that the name Renaissance signified "always preferring enlightenment over obscurantism." During the 2019 European election campaign, Macron's organization utilized the moniker Renaissance.
“Political parties have to reinvent themselves in order to continue to exist,” Guérini said, in a barbed reference to the poor presidential showing of the two former parties of government, the Socialists and Les Républicains, whose candidates Anne Hidalgo and Valérie Pécresse had a combined score of less than 7% in the presidential election last month.
What does rebranding mean?
The name change was also designed to assist Macron's party in gaining footing in local government, which it has failed to achieve in the previous five years. "It will be a people's party, open to residents," Guérini said, adding that all experience, particularly from local elected officials who could join, was welcome.
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Not the first time
When Macron was the Economy Minister in 2016, he founded the political movement En Marche! (On the Move) as a vehicle for his 2017 presidential campaign. It was labeled as "neither left nor right" and was presented as purposely unorthodox at the time. It employed Macron's initials, EM, and a handwritten logo in Macron's writing, with no specified color, as opposed to the fixed colors of the old party structure.
For the 2017 legislative elections, En Marche was renamed La République En Marche – The Republic on the Move – after Macron secured a majority.
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The new Renaissance party will join forces with two other centrist parties in next month's parliamentary elections: its longstanding partners in the MoDem party, which supported Macron in the presidential race, and the new Horizons party, founded by Macron's former prime minister, Édouard Philippe. They will create a partnership known as Ensemble.
The MoDem party's leader, François Bayrou, told a press conference in Paris that the coalition of centrists shared a sense of the "seriousness" of the current mood of political "divisions" in France. He claimed that the ideas of the opposition parties were "more radical" and "more risky" for France and Europe.