Macron is seeking to save power after the French vote was disrupted

French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron and his allies battled Monday to find a way to prevent political stalemate after losing a majority in parliament, a stunning blow to the president and his reform agenda.
The Coalition of the Macron Ensemble (together) is emerging as the largest party in Sunday’s National Assembly vote, but lacks dozens of seats to maintain the absolute majority it has enjoyed for the past five years.
The rise of the far right and the victories of the united left destroyed the dominant position of Macron’s deputies, who for five years unwaveringly supported the president’s policies.
The left-wing daily Liberation called the result a “slap” to Macron, while conservative Figaro said he was now “facing an unmanageable France”.
Macron’s Alliance Together won 244 seats, far less than the 289 needed for an overall majority, in low-turnout voting, which resulted in a abstention of 53.77 percent.
Macron, who has not yet commented on the results, met with his fierce prime minister on Monday. Elizabeth Bourne and two best allies, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and centrist leader Francois Bayrou.
The election showed that the new left-wing alliance NUPES has become a major opposition force, along with its 137-seat allies, according to the interior ministry.
But it seems unlikely that the coalition of Socialists, Communists, Greens and the stubborn France Unbowed will be able to keep the common cause in the legislature.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of France Unbowed, who leads the alliance, called his results “quite disappointing” and suggested that NUPES become a permanent left-wing bloc on Monday.
He said it would not be a complete merger, but simply an effective “alternative” force in parliament, although the proposal was immediately rejected by the other three NUPES parties.
Meanwhile, the far-right, led by Marin Le Pen, has achieved the best legislative performance in its history, becoming the strongest single opposition party with 89 seats compared to eight in the outgoing chamber.
Confident Le Pen said her party would want to chair the powerful financial committee of the National Assembly, as is the tradition for the largest opposition party.
“The country is not unmanageable, but it will not be governed the way Emmanuel Macron wanted,” Le Pen told reporters Monday.
Melenchon, meanwhile, said she would cast a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Bourne in early July, when she must set out her political priorities for the next five years.
Bourne, who was elected to parliament in her first political race, may now be vulnerable as Macron faces a new cabinet reshuffle after several of his main allies lose their seats.
His health and environment ministers have been beaten and will traditionally have to resign, as will the Speaker of Parliament and the head of Macron’s parliamentary group.
“For now, the prime minister remains prime minister,” she said Olivia Gregoire said defiantly to France Inter radio on Monday.
I am afraid that the country is paralyzed.
The result tarnished Macron’s victory in the presidential election in April, when he defeated Le Pen, becoming the first French president to win a second term in more than two decades.
“This is a turning point in his image of invincibility,” said Bruno Coutres, a researcher at the Poe Center for Policy Studies.
Macron’s options range from seeking a new coalition alliance, passing legislation based on ad hoc agreements or even calling new elections.
The most likely option would be an alliance with the Republicans, the traditional French right-wing party with 61 deputies.
But the president of LR Christian Jacob insisted his party intends to “stay in opposition”.
“We are entering a period that is unprecedented and uncertain,” Jean-Daniel Levy of Harris Interactive France told AFP. “There is no ready deal for the government.”
Macron hoped to support his second term with an ambitious program to reduce taxes, reform the social sphere and raise the retirement age. All this is now in question.
A well-known member of the Melenchon party, Alexis Corbier, said Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age in France to 65 has already “sunk”.
As rare good news for the president, European Minister Clement Bonn and Public Service Minister Stanislas Gerini – both young pillars of his party – have won tough battles for their seats.

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