The rise of the opposition weakens Macron’s absolute majority in the French parliament

PARIS – Voters in France’s legislative elections have ruled President Emmanuel Macron a major blow on Sunday as his centrist coalition lost its absolute majority in the lower house of parliament due to the resurgent far-right and a provocative union of left-wing partieswhich complicates his internal agenda for his second term.

With all the votes counted, Mr. Macron’s centrist coalition won 245 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house of parliament. It was more than any other political group, but less than half of all seats and much less than 350 seats, sir. Macron’s party and its allies won when he was first elected in 2017.

For the first time in 20 years, a newly elected president failed to win an absolute majority in the National Assembly. I will not digest Mr. Macron’s domestic agenda has been completely halted, but is likely to throw a big wrench at his ability to pass bills – transferring power back to parliament after his first term. top-down management style there were mostly marginalized legislators.

Mr. Macron’s government will probably have to seek a coalition or build short-term alliances on bills, but it was unclear Sunday night how that could happen.

The results were a sharp warning from French voters to Mr. Macron, who just months ago convincingly won the re-election against Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader. “The Slap” was the title on Monday on the first page on the left daily Libération.

Elizabeth Bourne, Mr. The Prime Minister of Macron, who won his own race in Normandy, said on Sunday that the results were “unprecedented” and that “this situation poses a risk to our country, given the challenges we have to face.”

“From tomorrow, we will work on building most of the action,” she said, noting in detail that the government would work with other political parties to “build good compromises”.

Mr. Macron seemed unengaged in the parliamentary elections, and he himself was not campaigning, looking preoccupied with France’s diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine in its war against Russia – which Sunday’s results should not affect, as French presidents can lead. foreign policy mostly as they wish.

Speaking at the airport runway before a trip to Eastern Europe that took him to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, last weekhe called on voters to give him a “solid majority” in the “supreme interest of the nation”.

But many French voters chose instead to stay at home – only about 46 percent of the French electorate went to the polls, according to estimates, the second lowest level of turnout since 1958 – or to vote for Mr. Macron’s most radical opponents.

Several of Mr. Macron’s close allies or cabinet members who ran in the election lost the race, angrily reproaching the president, who swore that ministers who failed to win a seat would have to resign. Richard Ferrand, President of the National Assembly, and Amélie de Monschalin, his Minister for the Green Transition, were defeated.

“We have disappointed a number of French people, the message is clear,” said Olivia Gregoire, a spokesman for Mr. That is what the Macron government told France 2 on Sunday.

“It’s a disappointing first place, but it’s a first place nonetheless,” she said, adding that Mr. Macron’s coalition will work in parliament with “anyone who wants to move the country forward”.

The final results were given by the alliance of the left parties – which includes the hard-line party France Unbowed, the Socialists, the Greens and the Communists and is led by the left veteran Jean-Luc Melanchon – 131 seats, which makes it the largest opposition force in the National Assembly. The national rally, Ms. Le Pen’s far-right party, secured 89 seats, a historic record.

Ientienne Ollion, a sociologist who teaches at Polycole Polytechnique, said Sunday’s results were a “double surprise”.

“This is the absence of an absolute majority – we saw it, but we did not expect it to be at that level – and on the other hand, this is the strong breakthrough of the National Rally, which is quite spectacular,” he said.

With a small relative majority – at least in the 63-year-old Fifth Republic of France, according to Mr. Olion – and strong opposition from the left and from the far right, sir. Macron’s centrist coalition could fight the passage of bills, potentially forcing him to go down the aisle to opposing lawmakers with some votes.

“The way in which the president will be able to govern through his prime minister is quite uncertain at the moment,” he said. Said Olion.

It was not clear who other allies of Mr. Macron’s coalition can find a working majority, although it looks like it will most likely be Les Républicains, the main conservative party that won 61 seats.

Mr. Macron will also be much more dependent on his centrist allies than he was in his first term, especially to adopt controversial projects such as his plan to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 65. This could give more leverage. of parties such as Horizons, a center-right group founded by Mr. Former Macron Prime Minister Fieldward Philip, who is more of a fiscal hawk. Horizons is expected to win about 25 seats.

“We are used to seeing France’s system centered on the presidency because it is the most powerful political service in the country,” said Olivier Rosenberg, an associate professor at Sciences Po in Paris. But “these legislative elections remind us that our political system is also parliamentary at heart.”

Mr. Melenchon and Ms. Le Pen both said on Sunday that they had managed to violate Mr. Macron’s second term.

“The defeat of the presidential party is complete,” Melenchon said to applause from supporters in Paris. “We have achieved the political goal we set.”

Mr. Melenchon fails to achieve his original goal, which is to take control of the National Assembly and force Mr. Macron to appoint him prime minister. Major political differences between coalition members on issues such as the European Union may also re-emerge after the lower house meets again later this month.

Still, it was a strong performance for the left parties largely written off as hopelessly divided during the presidential election.

At the other end of the political spectrum, madam. The Le Pen National Rally won many more seats than the handful it has now, and much more than expected after Ms. It was Le Pen defeated by Mr. Macron in the presidential election in Apriland then ran a weak parliamentary campaign.

Miss. Le Pen herself was easily re-elected to her seat in a county in northern France.

“This group will be the largest in the history of our political family,” she said in a speech Sunday, pledging her supporters to defend the party’s hard line on immigration and security.

Mr. Macron’s plight is not unique in modern French history. In 1988, under President Francois Mitterrand, the Socialist Party also failed to win an absolute majority in the National Assembly, forcing it to occasionally hunt for left or right MPs to pass bills. But this government also had access to tools – such as the ability to pass a bill without a vote, exposing the government to a vote of confidence – which are now much more limited.

Sunday’s vote was marred by record low turnout, a warning sign for Mr. Macron, who promised to rule closer to the people for his second term, is proof of growing voter dissatisfaction with French politics.

“There is a problem with representation,” said Odd Leroy, 44, who lives in Amiens. Mr. Macron’s hometown in northern Franceand avoided the urn on Sunday.

Miss. Leroy, who was heading to the clothing stalls in one of Amiens’ major open-air markets, said she felt “the most important issue has already been resolved” with the end of the presidential race.

But Sunday’s result could prove her wrong, as Mr. Macron may also be forced to compromise on bills, as opposition forces are expected to oversee key committees, such as the powerful finance committee that oversees the state budget.

“You will have incredible opportunities,” he said. Melenchon told his left-wing lawmakers on Sunday. “You have a magnificent combat instrument at your disposal.”

Adele Cordoniecontributed to a report by Amiens.

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