TOP STORIES Fears of a deadlock in France after Macron was...

Fears of a deadlock in France after Macron was left with a fragmented parliament


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PARIS. On Monday, France wondered if President Emmanuel Macron could effectively run the country after losing his absolute majority in the lower house of parliament as rising opposition groups threatened to block his legislative program and even topple his cabinet.

“Ungovernable!” read front page of Le Parisiendaily newspaper.

After a national vote on Sunday, Mr Macron’s centrist coalition finished first overall with 245 seats, but fell short of the outright majority it enjoyed in the National Assembly with 577 seats during his first term, heightening fears of political deadlock.

Much remained uncertain on Monday following a vote that left a complex and fragmented political landscape with three main opposition groups – the leftist alliance, the far right and the mainstream conservatives. They have all won enough seats to potentially obstruct Mr Macron’s legislative agenda, but they are also deeply opposed to each other in many ways, limiting the prospects for a broad and durable anti-Macron coalition.

However, much was clear: After five years of relatively smooth sailing in the National Assembly dominated by his party and its allies, Mr Macron’s agenda for a second term has a difficult road ahead.

“My biggest fear is that the country will be locked down,” said Olivia Gregoire, a spokeswoman for Mr Macron’s government. Radio France Inter reported this. on Monday. She said the upcoming bill, designed to help French households cope with rising inflation, was a top priority and would be the first test of a weakened majority’s ability to reach consensus.

Etienne Ollion, a sociologist who teaches at the École Polytechnique near Paris, said the result marked a significant change for Mr Macron, whose forces had so dominated parliament in his previous term that the National Assembly was nicknamed the “Unreachable Chamber.” a reference to the legislature formed in 1815, which was distinguished by zeal in favor of the French king.

“Now it’s an unattainable majority,” Mr. Ollion said.

Presidents hold the most powerful political office in France, have the ability to issue decrees on certain matters, and have relatively free rein in the conduct of foreign policy. But the major domestic changes promised by Mr Macron during his campaign this year require a bill in Parliament, such as his controversial plans to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 65, which Mr Macron promised to implement. by summer 2023.

The fate of such bills is now under threat. Mr Macron will likely be forced to seek a coalition or form short-term alliances with opposition forces if he wants to push the law through. The natural approach would be Les Républicains, the main conservative party, which, at least on paper, could support some of Mr Macron’s pro-business policies.

“It’s not completely blocked, it’s a suspended parliament,” said Vincent Martigny, professor of political science at the University of Nice, adding that Mr Macron “is now completely in the hands of Les Républicains.”

But the leaders of Les Républicains already seem to rule out a partnership.

“We campaigned in opposition, we are in opposition and will remain in opposition,” party chairman Christian Jacob said Sunday evening. “Everything is very clear,” he added.

The two largest opposition forces in parliament are the broad coalition of left-wing parties, which won 131 seats; and the far-right Marine Le Pen National Rally, with 89 votes, all but vowed to ruthlessly challenge Mr Macron’s government.

Spokesmen for both forces wasted no time on Monday calling for the resignation of Elisabeth Bourne, the prime minister appointed by Mr Macron last month.

“The government formed by Emmanuel Macron cannot continue to rule as if nothing had happened,” said Manuel Bompard, a member of the far-left France Invictus party. This was reported by the French channel BFMTV. on Monday. With 72 seats, Invictus France, under its leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is the largest force in the left coalition.

Opposition forces are expected to control key committees, such as the powerful finance committee that controls the state budget, and hold strategic positions in the National Assembly.

“They can do everything that Emmanuel Macron doesn’t like, that is, impose some amendments on him, force him to debate,” Mr. Martigny said.

Both the left-wing coalition and the National Rally have enough MPs to pass a vote of no confidence, but they would need to win an absolute majority in parliament to overthrow the government, which at the moment seems unlikely.

“Yes, we are asking for everything that an opposition group is entitled to, of course, the finance committee, of course, the vice presidency,” Ms Le Pen told reporters on Monday. “Will Emmanuel Macron be able to do what he wants? No, and so much the better.

Ms Le Pen, who was handily re-elected to her own seat in the National Assembly, has managed to bring with her a record number of lawmakers, who are now about 10 times more than during Mr Macron’s previous term.

This will allow the party to formally form a so-called parliamentary group, giving the National Rally more time to speak, as well as specific legislative powers, such as the ability to form ad hoc committees, further cementing the party in the political mainstream.

French political parties receive public funding based on factors including their election results and the number of seats in parliament, meaning that the National Rally’s spectacular surge will also bring welcome financial gains to the long-debted party.

The party is expected to receive nearly 10 million euros, about $10.5 million, in public funding each year, compared to about 5 million euros in the previous term. That could be enough to finally pay back the 9.6 million euros left over from a loan the National Rally made to a Russian bank in 2014, sparking accusations the party has close ties to the Kremlin.

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