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French president Emmanuel Macron loses absolute majority in parliament after defections

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French President Emmanuel Macron on May 6, 2020.
French President Emmanuel Macron on May 6, 2020.   -   Copyright  Ludovic Marin / POOL via AP
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French President Emmanuel Macron lost his absolute parliamentary majority on Tuesday after several of his MPs defected to create a new political group.

Seven of Macron's La Republique En Marche (LREM) MPs have joined the new group called "Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity".

Made up of 17 lawmakers, including other ex-LREM parliamentarians, the group said it would be "independent" and sit "neither in the majority nor in the opposition".

The latest defections mean Macron's formation now has 288 MPs — just one shy of an absolute majority. LREM had 314 MPs at the beginning of Macron's presidency.

"With this COVID-19 crisis, we need to overcome the divisions and postures, and collectively build the world of after," Matthieu Orphelin, the group's co-president wrote on Twitter.

The group's spokesperson, Hubert Julien-Laferrière, who defected from LREM, argued that none of them betrayed the "commitments of 2017" they were elected on under the LREM banner but that it is "rather the majority who have moved from it".

In a political declaration posted online, they said that they will "be a demanding force, ready to build with the government and the majority whenever they listen to our proposals, as with all political benches, to build majorities of ideas to give progress ecological and social a chance to succeed."

'The majority is not in danger'

The ruling party stressed however that it continues to have a working majority with Richard Ferrand, the President of the National Assembly, highlighting that it has the support of the centrist MoDem party and its 46 lawmakers.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian added that "the majority is not in danger, far from it."

Jean-Luc Melanchon, leader of the far-left La France Insoumise party described the new formation as "a comedy whose real objectives are not yet known".

"All these people were put in place by Macron. He is therefore responsible for the chaos," he also wrote in a blog post.

He added however that his party "will do everything in our power to attract these "wandering walkers" into the opposition on the days when they will be tempted to oppose."

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Rassemblement National party, has once again called for parliament to be dissolved following the creation of the new group.