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

  • An absolute majority requires 289 seats
  • Macron’s camp is very low
  • Preliminary results point to a hung parliament
  • The left-wing coalition is seen as the main opposition
  • Extreme right scores are key wins

PARIS, June 19 – French President Emmanuel Macron has lost control of the National Assembly in Sunday’s assembly elections, a major setback that could plunge the country into a political stalemate if it fails to negotiate a coalition with other parties.

Macron’s centrist coalition, which wants to raise the retirement age and deepen EU integration, was poised to win more seats in Sunday’s election.

But the final results show that they will be far short of the absolute majority needed to control parliament.

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A broad left-wing coalition was formed as the largest opposition group, while the far-right gained record-high wins and the conservatives were likely to become kingmakers.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the decision a “democratic shock” and said that if other groups did not cooperate, “it would hamper our ability to reform and protect the French.”

A hung parliament would require devolution and compromise between parties inexperienced in France in recent decades. read more

Now there is no script in France for how things will unfold. In the last parliamentary election in 1988, the newly elected president failed to secure an absolute majority.

“As a result, our country is in danger because of the challenges we face,” said Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne, adding that since Monday, Macron’s camp has been looking for alliances.

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If the legislature locks up, Macron could eventually call a quick election.

“The defeat of the president’s party is over, and there is no clear majority,” Jean-Luc Melenchon, a senior leader of the hard left, told disgruntled supporters.

The Left Liberation called the decision “a room” for Macron, and the economic daily Les Echos called it an “earthquake”.

Alliance?

The United Left parties behind Mலlenchon were seen tripled in the 2017 assembly elections.

In another significant shift in French politics, early predictions show that the far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally Party could gain ten times the number of MPs with 90-95 seats. That would be the party’s largest representation in the legislature.

Initial polls by pollsters Ifop, OpinionWay, Elabe and Ipsos put Macron’s group coalition at 230-250, the left – wing Nupes coalition at 141-175 and the Les Republicains at 60-75.

Macron became the first French president to win a second term in two decades as voters rallied to oust the far-right from power.

But he is leading a growing deeply dissatisfied and divided country in support of the populist parties on the right and left, as he is seen as unconnected by many voters.

His ability to further reform the eurozone’s second-largest economy depends on gaining support for his policies from moderates outside his coalition on both the right and left.

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Moderate?

Macron and his allies now have to decide whether they want an alliance with the fourth-placed Conservative Les Republicans or run a minority government or negotiate bills with other parties on a case-by-case basis.

“On the benches, there are moderates on the right and left. There are moderate socialists and there are people on the right. Perhaps, in law, they will be on our side,” said government spokeswoman Olivia Grigore.

The site of the Les Republicans is more in tune with the ensemble than the other parties. Together they have the opportunity to get an absolute majority in the final results, which require a minimum of 289 seats in the lower house.

Christian Jacob, leader of the Les Republicans, said his party would be in opposition but would be “constructive”, recommending deals in each case instead of a coalition agreement.

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

Macron called for strong mandate during a bitter campaign in the wake of the war in eastern Europe to tighten food and energy supplies and increase inflation and reduce household budgets.

Melenchon’s Nupes Alliance campaigned to freeze the prices of essential commodities, lower the retirement age, lower the inheritance limit and ban companies that pay dividends from laying off workers. Mலlenchon calls for disobedience to the EU.

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Additional report by Benoit von Overstretton, Michael Rose, Richard Laugh, John Irish, Juliet Jabgro, Carolyn Baileys, Lyley Forty; Written by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Barbara Lewis, Emilia Sithol-Modris, Cynthia Asterman and Daniel Wallis

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