July 3, 2022

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French elections: Macron loses absolute majority in parliament in 'democratic shock'

French elections: Macron loses absolute majority in parliament in ‘democratic shock’

  • 289 seats are required for an absolute majority
  • Expectations show that Macron falls short
  • Point to the hung parliament
  • The question now is how will Macron rule?

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron lost control of the National Assembly in Sunday’s legislative elections, a major setback that could push the country into political paralysis unless he is able to negotiate alliances with other parties.

Macron’s centrist Ensemble coalition, which wants to raise the retirement age and deepen EU integration, was due to get the most seats in Sunday’s election. Preliminary expectations and preliminary results showed that this was well below the absolute majority needed to control Parliament.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire described the outcome as a “democratic shock” and added that if other blocs did not cooperate, “this would impede our ability to reform and protect the French.”

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There is no specific text in France for how things will develop now. The last time a newly elected president failed to obtain an outright majority was in the 1988 parliamentary elections.

A hung parliament will require a degree of power-sharing and inter-party compromises that France has not seen in recent decades. Macron may eventually call an early election if a legislative deadlock follows.

“The presidential party’s defeat is over and there is no clear majority in sight,” Jean-Luc Melenchon, a hard-left veteran, told his supporters jubilantly.

Initial expectations showed that the leftist Nubian bloc that he heads came in second place. United behind him, left-wing parties were seen on the way to tripling their scores from the last legislative elections in 2017.

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Macron, 44, in April became the first French president to win a second term in two decades, as voters rallied to drive the far right out of power.

But, with many voters not keeping in touch with him, he heads a deeply frustrated and divided country as support for populist parties on the right and left has surged.

His ability to continue reforming the eurozone’s second largest economy hinges on winning support for his policies from moderates outside his coalition of right and left.

alliances?

Macron and his allies must now decide whether to seek an alliance with conservative Republicans, who came in fourth, or run a minority government that will have to negotiate laws with other parties on a case-by-case basis.

“There are moderates on the seats and on the right and on the left. There are moderate socialists and there are people on the right who might be on our side on legislation,” said government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire.

Les Republicains platform is more compatible with Ensemble than other parties. Together, the two stand a chance of obtaining an absolute majority in the final results, which would require at least 289 seats in the House of Representatives.

Christian Jacob, head of the Republican Party, said his party would remain in opposition but “constructive”, proposing case-by-case deals rather than a coalition deal.

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“disturbance?”

Initial forecasts from pollsters Ifop, OpinionWay, Elabe and Ipsos showed Macron’s squad coalition winning 210-240 seats, Nupes 141-188 and Les Republicains 60-75.

Former National Assembly Speaker Richard Ferrand and Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon lost their seats in two major defeats for Macron’s camp.

Preliminary forecasts showed that in another significant change in French politics, the National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen, the far-right, could register a tenfold increase in the number of deputies by up to 90-95 seats. This would be the largest party representation in the Assembly ever.

Macron had called for a strong mandate during a bitter campaign against the backdrop of a war on Europe’s eastern flanks that has tightened food and energy supplies and soared inflation, eroding household budgets.

Before the second round of voting, the president had said: “Nothing is worse than adding French chaos to global chaos.”

The Mellenchon Newbies coalition has campaigned to freeze commodity prices, lower the retirement age, set a cap on inheritance, and ban dividend-paying companies from layoffs. Melenchon also calls for disobedience towards the European Union.

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Additional reporting by Benoit van Overstraiten, Michelle Rose, John Irish, Juliette Jabkeiro, Caroline Baileys and Lily Forody; Written by Ingrid Melander and Richard Love; Editing by Barbara Lewis, Emilia Sithole Mataris and Cynthia Osterman

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.