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Macron scrambles to salvage majority


PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron and his allies were scrambling on Monday for a way to avert political deadlock after losing their majority in parliament, a stunning blow for the president and his reform agenda.

Macron’s Ensemble (Together) coalition emerged as the largest party in Sunday’s National Assembly vote, but was dozens of seats short of keeping the absolute majority it has enjoyed for the last five years.

A surge by the far-right and wins by a united left-wing destroyed the dominant position of Macron’s deputies, who for five years had backed the president’s policies without fail.

The left-leaning ‘Liberation’ daily called the result a “slap in the face” for Macron, while the conservative Figaro said he was now “faced with an ungovernable France”.

Macron’s Together alliance won 244 seats, far short of the 289 needed for an overall majority, in a low-turnout vote that resulted in an abstention rate of 53.77 per cent.

Macron, who has not yet commented on the results, met Monday with his embattled Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and two top allies, former premier Edouard Philippe and centrist leader Francois Bayrou.

The election saw the new left-wing alliance NUPES become the main opposition force along with its allies on 137 seats, according to the Interior Ministry. But it appears unlikely the coalition of Socialists, Communists, Greens and the hard-left France Unbowed will be able to retain common cause in the legislature.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the France Unbowed chief who orchestrated the alliance, called its results “fairly disappointing” and proposed Monday to make NUPES a permanent left-wing bloc.

He said it would not be a full-on merger but simply an effective “alternative” force in parliament, though the offer was immediately rejected by the three other NUPES parties.

Meanwhile, the far-right under Marine Le Pen posted the best legislative performance in its history, becoming the strongest single opposition party with 89 seats, up from eight in the outgoing chamber.

A confident Le Pen said her party would demand to chair the National Assembly’s powerful finance commission, as is tradition for the biggest opposition party.

“The country is not ungovernable, but it’s not going to be governed the way Emmanuel Macron wanted’’, Le Pen told reporters Monday.

 — AFP

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