Analysis – Emmanuel Macron learns the art of compromise the hard way

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© Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron cheers supporters before the final round of voting in the country’s parliamentary elections in Le Touquet, France, June 19, 2022, Michel Spengler/Poor via Reuters society

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Michelle Ross

PARIS (Reuters) – Jupiter has lost his Thunder. Emmanuel Macron’s first term as president was marked by a top-down style of government he likened to an almighty Roman god who will have to learn to build consensus in a second term the art of.

Stripped of an absolute majority by voters on Sunday, the French president can no longer count on parliament to be just a rubber-stamp house. Instead, he will be forced to negotiate with demanding allies and new partners, hatred.

Projections showed Macron’s “Ensemble!” coalition losing with an outright majority of 40 to 60 lawmakers, a much wider margin than expected and a landslide result for the president.

That means he may have to seek support from the conservative Republican Party (LR), which will enjoy its role as kingmaker and hope to get legislative support from Macron – possibly including a change of prime minister.

“This culture of compromise is one that we have to adopt, but we have to do so around clear French values, philosophies and political projects,” said Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, himself a former conservative in an apparent attempt to engage with him contact with the President. ex-political family.

Yet in a country that postwar leader Charles de Gaulle famously said could not govern because of its 246 varieties of cheese, both Macron and potential partners have had a hard time learning the Nordic art of consensus-building and coalition work.

Senior Les Republicains officials appeared to have rejected a broad coalition deal on Sunday night and will continue to oppose it, but will be “constructive” – ​​suggesting a deal may be reached on a case-by-case basis.

“I’m worried we’ll be in more of an Italian-style political situation, difficult to govern, than a consensus-building Germany situation,” Saxo Bank analyst Christopher Dembik told Reuters.

“It doesn’t have to be a tragedy, in my opinion. It could be an opportunity to revive French democracy and return to the true meaning of parliament,” he said.

Macron was frequently criticized in his first term for passing parliamentary pro-business reforms drafted by his aides at the Elysee Palace without consulting lawmakers or outside stakeholders.

Rivals often accuse the president of being out of touch and arrogant. A government source said it may have been an attempt by voters to approve it.

“It’s a message about the lack of grassroots and the arrogance we sometimes display,” the source said.

During the campaign, Macron sought to counter the allegation by promising a “new way of government”, proposing to create a new body outside parliament that would be made up of figures from civil society with whom he would consult on future reforms.

In the end, French voters don’t seem to believe it.

obstruct

Macron could face resistance from both sides of the chamber. The left-wing Nupes coalition, which has turned an already combative army of lawmakers into the biggest opposition force in parliament, will ruthlessly obstruct.

Parliamentary rules state that opposition MPs must lead a powerful finance committee that can demand access to confidential tax information from the government and can temporarily block budget bills.

That would be a particularly painful way to get Macron into trouble.

On the other side of the aisle, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Assembly may also make the most of its newly acquired rights as a body of parliamentarians to launch a parliamentary inquiry and challenge the bill at the Constitutional Court, senior RN officials have spoken.

Those investigations could force government ministers and even presidential aides to testify publicly in Congress.

The parties will also replenish their coffers with taxpayer money, which is distributed to parties based on their election results — raising fears of a formidable challenge to the next presidential election in 2027.

Of course, compromise does not necessarily mean paralysis.

Macron’s new center-right partners will find it hard not to support his most conservative reform plans, such as extending the retirement age to 65 or making benefits conditional on training or community work.

Some legislation may be difficult to pass.

But it remains to be seen how long Macron will accept sharing power. The president has the power to call parliamentary elections at any time, and political sources expect new thunder from Jupiter at some point.

“I expect parliament to dissolve within a year or so,” a center-right lawmaker who may be trying to strike a deal with Macron’s party told Reuters.

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