Macron pledges 'change' as French far right eyes parliament rout

French President Emmanuel Macron. [AFP]

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday vowed a "change" of governing style regardless of who wins the snap elections he called, as fresh polls indicated his centrist party may once again be trounced by the far right.

Despite the prospect of a hung parliament, Macron insisted he would finish out his term until 2027, defying calls from opponents to step down in case the far-right National Rally (RN) comes out on top.

"The goal cannot be to just continue as things were," Macron said in an open letter published in French media. "I have heard that you want change.

"You can trust me to act until May 2027 as your president, protector at every moment of our republic, our values, respectful of pluralism and your choices, at your service and that of the nation," he added.

Marine Le Pen, the National Rally's figurehead, said Saturday that Macron's resignation could be the only solution to avoid a lame-duck presidency for the remaining three years of his term.

Her comments came as two new opinion polls released showed the RN with 35-36 percent of voting intentions as the first round looms on June 30. They lead a left-wing alliance at 27-29.5 percent, with Macron's centrists in third at 19.5-22 percent.

That would put the far right within reach of an absolute majority of at least 289 seats -- and open a combative period of "cohabitation" government in which the president and prime minister hail from rival parties.

Macron acknowledged that his decision to call the snap polls had generated for some voters "anger that has turned against me".

He also noted "this fracture between the people and those who lead the country, which we have not succeeded in reducing.

"The goal cannot be to just continue as things were. I have heard that you want change," he added, noting in particular his administration's "much stronger and firmer responses" on "insecurity and impunity".

 'Who should govern?' 

But Macron insisted that the coming vote, with a second round on July 7, was "neither a presidential election, nor a vote of confidence in the president of the republic".

Instead it was a chance to answer "a single question: who should govern France?"

"The incoming government, which will necessarily reflect your vote, will I hope resemble the various republicans who will have shown the courage to oppose the extremes", he said.

In the EU Parliament election earlier this month the far right finished first in France at 31.5 percent of the vote, double the 15 percent for Macron's centrist Renaissance.

Opinion polls suggest the RN is set to achieve its best-ever score in the legislative vote, potentially giving it a shot at naming a prime minister, most likely its telegenic young party chief Jordan Bardella.

Gabriel Attal, Macron's prime minister, said Sunday that he had "heard the message" sent by the EU Parliament vote, told RTL radio that "in our methods, in our governance, we have to do better".

Macron's party is also seen lagging behind the New Popular Front (NFP), a last-minute alliance of leftist parties that includes former president -- and Macron's ex-boss -- Francois Hollande.

But sporadic sniping between the Socialists, Communists, Greens and the France Unbowed (LFI) party of firebrand leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has fuelled doubts about how cohesive their alliance will prove.

Some Socialist voters have struggled with the idea of backing an alliance with LFI, with some party figures accused of anti-Semitism and a history of eurosceptic statements.

"I intend to govern this country," Melenchon told BFM television -- something his coalition partners have shown no intention of accepting.

Melenchon should "keep quiet" and avoid stirring up the "rejection" he generates among more moderate left-leaning voters, Hollande said in response.