Macron to face press grilling as election battle heats up


Paris, June 11 (AFP/APP):French President Emmanuel Macron was to face journalists' questions Tuesday after calling risky snap elections that could result in a far-right surge in parliament.
              The ballot has set alarm bells ringing across Europe, risking hobbling France, historically a key player in brokering compromise in Brussels and support for Ukraine against Russian invasion.
              With just 19 days until the first round on June 30 -- the shortest campaign since France's Fifth Republic was founded in 1958 -- Macron's task to shore up support in the rare grilling from journalists is formidable, according to polls.
              A Harris Interactive-Toluna poll published Monday suggested just 19 percent of people would vote for his camp, compared with 34 percent for the far-right National Rally led by his two-time presidential challenger Marine Le Pen.
              "It's the future of the French nation that's at stake in a few weeks," Macron's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told broadcaster BFMTV Tuesday.
              "Either there's a clear majority, or we run the risk of a regime crisis," he added.
              Macron called the snap polls after the far right crushed his centrist alliance in Sunday's EU ballot, in what analysts said is the French leader's bid to keep the far-right National Rally (RN) out of power when his second term ends in 2027.