Political stalemate and stagnation beckons for France after voters in the second round of the country’s parliamentary elections deny recently re-elected President Macron’s party an absolute majority.
Initial projections point to a hung parliament with considerable gains for parties on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.
Macron’s Ensemble party is set to remain the largest in France’s National Assembly, acquiring a relative majority, but the French president appears to have fallen far short of the 289 seats required to enjoy a ruling majority.
According to nearly final results, Macron’s coalition Ensemble won 251 seats, while the left-wing NUPES coalition, led by the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, obtained 135, and firebrand nationalist Marine Le Pen’s National Rally boosted its parliamentary seats from 8 seats to 88.
It would be the first time since the 1980s that a French president has not obtained the ruling majority required to push through legislation with ease, throwing into jeopardy Macron’s flagship electoral policies including his controversial pension reforms.
The results are “far from what we had hoped,” Budget Minister Gabriel Attal told TF1, while Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti said on the BFM news channel: “We’re in first place, but it’s a first place that is obviously disappointing.”
“This situation constitutes a risk for our country, given the challenges that we have to confront,” the recently appointed French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said in a televised statement, adding: “We will work from tomorrow (Monday) to build a working majority.”
Right-wing presidential runner-up, Marine Le Pen, hailed the election result as a “victory for the French people,” adding: “Tonight, they have taken their destiny into their own hands by making Emmanuel Macron a minority president. This victory is yours!”
Far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon praised the left-wing NUPES coalition, still in its infancy, and called the election result a “drubbing” for President Macron and his allies.
“We have succeeded in our political objective … to overthrow (the president) who so arrogantly twists the country’s arm, who has been elected for who knows what,” he said.
The nightmare scenario for Macron could now result in weeks of political deadlock as he and his allies seek to establish electoral pacts with other parties in order to acquire the working majority needed to govern effectively.