French President Emmanuel Macron Suffers Stunning Setback after Losing Majority in Parliament

 

French president loses parliamentary majority in shock setback

The result seriously tarnishes Macron’s presidential victory in April.

Paris:

French President Emmanuel Macron lost his parliamentary majority on Sunday as the newly formed coalition of the left and the far right won an election in a stunning blow to his plan for major reforms for his second term.

The result has thrown French politics into chaos, raising the prospect of a paralyzed legislature or a chaotic alliance with Macron, forced to engage with new allies.

According to five French polling firms in the second round on Sunday.

“Of course it’s a disappointing number one,” government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire told BFM television. “We’re lower than we hoped.”

The result severely tarnished Macron’s victory in April’s presidential election, defeating the far-right to become the first French president in more than two decades to win re-election.

Under the 70-year-old far-left figurehead Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the new left-wing coalition NUPES is expected to win 149-200 seats.

The coalition, formed in May in April’s presidential election following a split on the left, brought together socialists, the far left, communists and the Greens.

The left has only 60 seats in the outgoing parliament, meaning their representation could be tripled.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally Party is also poised for big gains after only eight seats in the outgoing parliament.

According to projections, it will send 60-102 members to the new parliament.

Macron, 44, had hoped to make his second term problematic with an ambitious plan to cut taxes, reform benefits and raise the retirement age.

“It will complicate reform … governance will be more difficult,” said Dominique Rousseau, a law professor at the Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

As president, Macron retains control of foreign policy, and the 44-year-old seeks to play a major role in ending Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Disappointing first place”

Melenchon called Sunday’s result “first and foremost an electoral defeat” for Macron. “The president’s party is completely rout, there will be no majority,” he told cheering supporters in Paris.

Alexis Corbiere, a prominent lawmaker in Melenchon’s party, said the result meant Macron’s plan to raise France’s retirement age to 65 had “failed”.

“A slap in the face,” said the headline in Monday’s edition of the left-leaning Liberation Party, adding that the result represented a “degeneration” of Macron’s way of governing.

Le Pen welcomed the historic result for her party, saying it will send the most MPs to the next National Assembly “by far”.

Weeks of political stalemate are now likely as the president seeks to engage with the new party.

The most likely option is to ally with the traditional French right-wing party, the Republican Party (LR), which is expected to win 40-80 seats.

“We will work with everyone who wants to move the country forward,” Gregoire told France 2.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire denied that France would be ungovernable, but acknowledged that the ruling party “requires a lot of imagination” under “unprecedented circumstances”.

minister at risk

The president’s nightmare scenario – with the left winning a majority and Mélenchon leading the government – appears to have been ruled out.

But it was a frustrating night for Macron, who last week called on voters to give his coalition a “solid majority”, adding that “there is nothing like adding France’s chaos to the world’s chaos” bad.”

The ruling party’s campaign was overshadowed by growing concerns about rising prices, while new Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne failed to make an impact on a sometimes lackluster campaign.

In another blow, leading ministers running for election will lose their jobs under a pact that they should resign if they fail to win a seat.

Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon was defeated by the far-right in the race for the seat, while Maritime Minister Justin Benin lost his seat in the French Caribbean.

French European Minister Clement Bona and Environment Minister Amelie de Montcharin face tough challenges in their constituencies, and both will quit the government if they fail.

Two of Macron’s close allies, parliament speaker Richard Ferrand and former interior minister Christoph Castaner, both admit to losing the fight for the seat.

Turnout was low, as predicted, with voting agencies expecting abstentions of 53.5-54%, higher than the first round but not exceeding the worst turnout on record in 2017.

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