President Emmanuel Macron loses majority: what it means for Europe and the world

The 44-year-old centrist became the first president in decades not to win an absolute majority in parliament, below the 289-seat threshold. His alliance, however, will always remain the largest bloc.

It means that even if Macron is able to keep control of the executive, he will struggle to pass laws, jeopardizing much of his agenda, including plans to raise the retirement age. and implement tax reforms.

“This situation is a risk for our country given the challenges we face both nationally and internationally,” said Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. “We must build the right compromises to act for France.”

French bonds fell at the open, pushing 10-year borrowing costs up 6 basis points to 2.26%, while the euro rose 0.3% against the dollar to 1 ,0530.

Macron’s alliance won 245 seats. The second largest group in parliament is the Nupes, a left-wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, which has 131 deputies. The far-right National Rally fared much better than expected with 89 seats, while the center-right Republicans and their allies won 61.

The president’s office will also be overhauled. Three ministers were not elected, and officials in Macron’s office have previously said anyone in that position would have to step down. Ecology Minister Amélie de Montchalin said on Sunday evening that she would leave the government.

France’s current political system, known as the Fifth Republic, was put in place by Charles de Gaulle in 1958 to avoid the disruption of a parliamentary system that could not create a stable majority. Socialist Michel Rocard, for example, led a government in the late 1980s that failed to achieve an absolute majority, although his party and allies were much closer to it than any group of parties. should be after Sunday’s election.

Macron’s support base has shrunk after the past five years, with protests over his pension reform, social inequality and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. His second term had already started in rocky fashion, with allegations of sexual harassment against one of his ministers and criticism of the government’s policing doctrine after chaos at a football stadium sparked anger in the UK.

The result plunges France into a situation that has become common to all of Europe with the emergence of new populist and ecologist parties. Germany’s Olaf Scholz won last year’s election with the lowest vote share of any chancellor since the establishment of the Federal Republic. Spain’s two-party system collapsed in recent elections, leaving Pedro Sanchez to govern with a minority coalition while Italy, long the most unstable of major European countries, is ruled by technocrat Mario Draghi after the collapse of his previous coalition in the midst of the pandemic.

Lisa Thomas-Darbois, a specialist in French politics at the Institut Montaigne in Paris, said Macron will not be able to rely on the extremes, whether the far right or the far left, who will oppose his almost systematically to all government proposals.

But he could cobble together alliances on specific topics – his stance on raising the retirement age is similar to that of center-right Republicans, for example.

“The good thing is that there are areas they could agree on, from the environment to public services to the need to better engage citizens,” said Annabelle Lever, a professor at Sciences Po, describing different ad hoc configurations of parties to come. parliament. “The problem is that they might just not want to get along.”

If that doesn’t work, Macron might be tempted to use Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, which under certain conditions allows him to put in place a law even without parliamentary approval. Rocard has set the record for using this system by far.

Investor confidence

While Nupes is unlikely to implement its economic program, which includes higher wages and reduced working hours on the back of massive public spending, the coalition will gain influence in parliamentary and public debates. At a time of rising interest rates around the world, it has “the potential to undermine investor confidence in France’s fiscal outlook”, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Maeva Cousin.

The National Rally, meanwhile, which won a record result, has enough seats to be able to influence committees and get designated speaking time to air its views, a milestone in Marine Le’s decade-long effort. Pen to bring the party to the center of French politics.

Le Pen, who lost to Macron in the April presidential polls, immediately tried to position his party in opposition to both the president and Melenchon and to the far left: “We will be a firm opposition, without complicity, but responsible and respectful of the institutions”. “, she said in a brief speech on Sunday.

Ipsos pollster Mathieu Gallard attributed the National Rally’s surge to Nupes supporters failing to rally behind Macron in polls involving National Rally candidates.

Jean Garrigues, a historian who writes about French politics, said the results could be a blessing in disguise for Macron. “It could force the president to negotiate,” he said, “eroding the image of an egocentric style of government that has stuck with him since 2017.”

This story was published from a news feed with no text edits. Only the title has been changed.

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