PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron lost his parliamentary majority on Sunday (June 19) after major electoral gains by a newly formed left-wing and far-right alliance, dealing a blow to his plans for major second-term reform.
The result threw French politics into turmoil, raising the prospect of a crippled legislature or messy coalitions with Macron forced to reach out to new allies.
Macron, 44, now also risks being distracted by domestic issues as he seeks to play a leading role in ending the Russian invasion of Ukraine and as a key statesman of the EU.
Macron’s “Together” coalition was on course to be the largest party in the next National Assembly. But with 234 seats so far, according to Home Office results based on a 97% vote tally, it will fall well short of the 289 seats needed for a majority in the 577-member chamber.
“This situation constitutes a risk for our country, given the challenges we have to face,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said in a televised statement, promising: “We will work from tomorrow to build a working majority.”
The result badly tarnished Macron’s victory in April’s presidential election when he beat the far-right to be the first French president to win a second term in more than two decades.
“It’s a turning point for his image of invincibility,” said Bruno Cautres, researcher at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po.
‘FAILURE FOR MACRON’
The new left-wing coalition NUPES led by 70-year-old far-left figurehead Jean-Luc Melenchon won 124 seats, according to a vote tally of 97%.
The coalition, formed in May after the breakup of the left for the presidential elections in April, brings together socialists, the hard left, communists and greens.
Melenchon called Sunday’s results “first and foremost an electoral failure” for Macron.
“The rout of the presidential party is total and there will be no majority,” in parliament, he told cheering supporters in Paris.
A prominent MP from Melenchon’s party, Alexis Corbiere, said the result meant Macron’s plan to raise France’s retirement age to 65 had been “sunk”.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party was also on course for huge gains after securing just eight seats in the outgoing National Assembly.
He was already sending 89 deputies to the new parliament, according to the partial results, making him the largest right-wing force in parliament ahead of the traditional right-wing Les Républicains (LR).
Le Pen hailed a historic result for his party, saying he would send “by far” its largest number of deputies to the next National Assembly.
Macron had hoped to mark his second term with an ambitious program of tax cuts, welfare reform and raising the retirement age. All of this is now in question.
“This will complicate the reforms… It will be much more difficult to govern,” said Dominique Rousseau, professor of law at the University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne.