Macron seeks to save a functioning government after French election defeat

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron makes a statement during a visit to NATO troops at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase near the Romanian city of Constanta on June 15, 2022. Yoan Valat / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Dominique Vidalon

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist camp scrambled on Monday for the support of parliamentary rivals to salvage some of his reform agenda and avoid political paralysis after voters punished them in legislative elections.

While Macron’s “ensemble” bloc won the largest number of lawmakers in the 577-seat National Assembly, the left-wing coalition and the far-right performed very strongly in a vote on Sunday, but fell well short of an outright majority.

There is no playbook for how things should unfold in France.

“It’s going to be complicated,” government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire told Radio France Internationale. “We have to be creative.

“My biggest concern is that the country is locked down,” she added.

Macron himself has yet to comment on the election results.

A key question is whether he will try to strike a coalition deal with conservative Republicans — an option they have rejected for now — or engage in messy negotiations with opponents on a bill-by- bill basis.

“We will try to get others to join us, especially to convince the moderate minority in parliament to follow us,” Gregoire said, adding that Macron would reshuffle his government in the coming days.

Without a deal, the euro zone’s second-largest economy will face political paralysis.

A fragmented parliament with a broad left-wing coalition in stark contrast to the largest far-right group ever seen https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/far-right-sends-shockwaves-france-after-election-breakthrough – 2022-06-19. If Macron cannot find enough support to keep things going, France could face an early election.

The first big test will be a cost-of-living bill, which Gregoire said the government would introduce to lawmakers within eight days, when the new parliament would meet for the first time.

This summer, proposals on renewable energy will test the solidity of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s broad left-wing coalition https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/french-left-pulls-off-election-gamble -unity-going-forward-not-so-easy-2022-06-19, which is divided on nuclear power.

The final figures showed Macron’s centrist camp won 245 seats – well short of the 289 needed to control parliament, 131 for the Nupes left-wing coalition, 89 for the far-right and 61 for Les Republicains.

painful setback

Voting a painful setback for 44-year-old Macron https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/macron-faces-tough-battle-control-parliament-france-votes-2022-06-19 Elected in April. In his second and final term, he hopes to deepen EU integration, raise the retirement age and breathe new life into the French nuclear industry.

Macron’s Ensemble alliance and Les Republicains have compatible platforms on economic matters, including raising the retirement age and promoting nuclear energy. Together, they will have an absolute majority.

But lawmakers from Les Republicans said they were not willing to join in just yet.

“Forget the idea that a choice has to be made between Emmanuel Macron and extremists,” Republican secretary-general Aurelian Prady told French information radio.

“The Republican Party’s place in Congress will be free and independent.”

under pressure

Financial markets largely took the outcome in stride, with little impact on the euro and stocks early on Monday. There was some widening pressure on French bond spreads.

Commerzbank (ETR: ) analyst Ulrich Leuchtmann in a note.

Macron’s victory in April made him the first French president in two decades to win a second term as voters rallied to prevent the ouster of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

But after his first presidency marked by a top-down style of government, Macron himself compared it to Jupiter https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/jupiter-no-more- macron-learns-art-compromising-hard-way-2022-06-19, the almighty Roman god, the president must now learn the art of consensus building.

“Such a fragmented parliament could lead to a political stalemate with a much slower reform agenda that could lead to a vote of no confidence and/or the dissolution of the National Assembly in the coming year,” Barclays (Long:).

“This could weaken France’s position in Europe and jeopardize the country’s already weak fiscal position.”

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