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France: Macron urges mainstream parties to form coalition in National Assembly after chaotic election

The French President called on mainstream parties with 'republican values' to form a solid majority in the National Assembly. The snap parliamentary election announced by Macron saw three politically divergent blocs emerging without any majority in the 577-member Assembly.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Paris Published on: July 11, 2024 9:59 IST
French President Emmanuel Macron at the NATO Summit in
Image Source : REUTERS French President Emmanuel Macron at the NATO Summit in Washington

Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called on mainstream parties with 'republican values' to unite and form a solid majority in the National Assembly in his first comments after a chaotic snap election that delivered a parliamentary gridlock in France. The snap elections were unexpectedly announced by Macron after losing to the far-right National Rally (RN) in European elections.

The snap election has plunged France into uncharted waters, with three politically divergent blocs and no obvious path to forming a government. In a letter to regional newspapers, Macron urged mainstream parties with "republican values" to form a governing coalition and said he hoped to pick a prime minister from such a grouping.

"Let us place our hope in the ability of our political leaders to demonstrate sense, harmony and calm in your interest, and that of the country," he wrote. "It is in the light of these principles that I will decide on the appointment of the prime minister."

What happened in French elections?

Three major political blocs emerged from the elections — yet none of them is close to the majority of at least 289 seats out of 577 in the National Assembly. While not uncommon in other European countries, modern France has never experienced a parliament with no dominant party. The left-wing bloc secured the most number seats while Macron's centrist alliance came second, and the Marine Le Pen-led RN, which appeared to inch closer to a majority, came in third due to political manoeuvring to stop them from power.

The left bloc New Popular Front (NFP), which won the most number of seats, comprises the hard-left France Unbowed party and the Socialist, Green and Communist parties. Macron has previously said he would not work with the hard-left France Unbowed party, but he could possibly stretch out a hand to the Socialists and the Greens.

It would be customary for Macron to call on the biggest parliamentary group, in this case, the left-wing bloc, to form a government, but nothing in the constitution obliges him to do so. Macron did not explicitly call for the RN or France Unbowed to be excluded from a governing coalition, but his mention of "republican values" is typically understood to exclude parties on the far left or the far right.

How left parties reacted to Macron's letter?

Meanwhile, several France Unbowed lawmakers reacted to Macron's letter by saying that he should accept the left-wing alliance's pick for prime minister, when it has agreed on one, and allow the bloc to form a government. "The best he can do for the country at this stage is to allow the group that won the most seats, the New Popular Front, to govern. Any other machinations would be truly problematic and dangerous for democracy," said Eric Coquerel.

Options include a broad coalition, a minority government or a technocratic government led by a non-politically affiliated person, which would seek to pass laws in parliament on a case-by-case basis, with ad hoc agreements. France’s fractious politics and deep divisions over taxes, immigration and Mideast policy would make kit harder to implement Macron's policies after the unprecedented election results.

RN leader Jordan Bardella said Macron was to blame for the political paralysis. "And now his message is: 'sort something out'. Irresponsible!" he posted on X, referring to Macron's letter. His mentor, the long-time RN leader Marine Le Pen, has spent the last few years cleaning up the image of a party once known for racism and antisemitism and is now looking at prospects to win the 2027 presidential election.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal submitted his resignation after the election results. However, Macron decided to keep his Attal in office after parliamentary elections in which the government's political camp lost its role as the strongest party to the left in a hung parliament to ensure stability. France Unbowed lawmaker Adrien Quatennens accused Macron of wanting to "steal" the left's victory after this decision.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | France's first gay Premier Gabriel Attal offers resignation after election debacle, President Macron rejects

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