PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday held talks with the opposition on ending the deadlock sparked by his failure to secure a majority in parliamentary elections, after rejecting an offer by the prime minister to resign.
Macron met right-wing, Socialist and Communist party chiefs at the Elysee and was to host far-right leader Marine Le Pen for rare talks as he seeks solutions to a tricky situation that risks plunging his second term into crisis two months after it began.
The spectre of political paralysis and the breakthrough performance by the far-right under Le Pen has also raised questions over Macron's leadership in Europe as he seeks to keep a prime role in dealing with the Russian war of Ukraine.
The Elysee said French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, blamed by some analysts for heading a lacklustre campaign, had offered her resignation to Macron but the head of state turned it down.
Macron believes the government needs to "stay on task and act" and the president will now seek "constructive solutions" to the political deadlock in talks with opposition parties, said a presidential official, who asked not to be named.
Macron started Tuesday's flurry of discussions by talking with Christian Jacob, the head of the traditional right-wing the Republicans (LR), a party on the decline in recent months but which now may be courted by the president to give him a majority.
The options available to Macron range from seeking to form a new coalition alliance, passing legislation based on ad hoc agreements, or even calling new elections.
One option would be an alliance with the Republicans, which have 61 MPs.
But Jacob after the talks appeared to close the door on such a solution. "I told the president there was no question of entering into what could be seen as betrayal of our voters." "We will stay in opposition... there is no question of thinking about some kind of pact," he said, while vowing the party would not block the work of institutions.
Macron had hoped to mark his second term with an ambitious programme of tax cuts, welfare reform and raising the retirement age. All that is now in question.
"What can he (Macron) do now?" said the headline in the Le Parisien daily. "Macron in an impasse," added Le Figaro.
Despite vowing a new method of politics after his April presidential election victory, Macron has remained characteristically remote and has made no public comment on the outcome of the parliamentary polls.
"Macron's great hesitation," said the Le Monde daily, saying that the president was in no hurry to work out his post-election strategy.
While Macron's Ensemble (Together) coalition remains the largest party after Sunday's National Assembly elections, it fell dozens of seats short of keeping the absolute majority it has enjoyed for the last five years.
The NUPES left-wing alliance became the main opposition force but the coalition of Socialists, Communists, Greens and the hard-left France Unbowed faces an uphill struggle to retain unity. - AFP