PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s party lost two by-elections for parliamentary seats on Sunday in the first electoral test since it won a commanding majority last June.
The two lower house seats were won by the conservative Republicans party, in a boost for its new leader, Laurent Wauquiez, a hard-hitting critic of Macron. Wauquiez dismisses Macron as out of touch with rural France and weak on security.
Macron, whose pro-Europe, pro-business Republic On The Move party still controls 309 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, has seen his popularity wane since he took power.
“It’s a blow which severely punishes the government’s policies whose impact on the ground is being judged harshly by our fellow citizens: tax rises for the middle class and pensioners and an unprecedented explosion in immigration and crime,” Wauquiez said in a statement.
One of the conservatives was reelected in the Belfort 1 constituency in the east of the country with 58.93 percent of the votes, against 41.07 percent for the candidate supported by Macron’s party.
Other parties, including the far-right National Front, were eliminated in the first round last Sunday.
The second seat in the running in the Val d’Oise area north of Paris was lost by Macron’s candidate, who conceded defeat to her conservative rival late on Sunday. Final results were not yet available.
The by-elections were triggered after France’s constitutional court declared last year’s results invalid.
(Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac in Strasbourg and Michel Rose and Elizabeth Pineau in Paris; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)