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French parliament faces complex puzzle in post-election coalition talks

Lawmakers gather at the National Assembly in Paris.
Lawmakers gather at the National Assembly in Paris. Copyright AP Photo/Michel Euler
Copyright AP Photo/Michel Euler
By Euronews with AP
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A fractious political climate and deep ideological divisions make finding common ground extremely challenging.


A broad leftist coalition has come out on top following pivotal legislative elections in France, but has still fallen short of an absolute majority — forcing parliament and the executive into a difficult negotiations to agree on a prime minister.

After a major advance for the far right in the first round of polling, the electorate ultimately kept the Nationally Rally party at bay, leaving the country in the unprecedented position of having no dominant political bloc in parliament.

Three major blocs have emerged, and none of them is close to holding a majority of at least 289 seats out of 577. Instead, the result allocates 182 seats for the New Popular Front leftist coalition, 168 for President Emmanuel Macron's Together for the Republic centrist coalition, and 143 for the far-right National Rally party.

The results mean Macron's centrist allies almost certainly won't be able to implement their pro-business proposals such as a promise to overhaul unemployment benefits. It could also make passing a budget more difficult.

While a fractured parliament is not uncommon in Europe, France has not experienced one in its modern history. That sets the stage for tense negotiations to form a new government and appoint a prime minister, whose job will be to focus on domestic policy and shares power with the president.

No obvious candidate has yet emerged. While Macron can put forward a name, he would still need the support from a parliamentary majority — this after his bloc came an embarrassing second in the snap election he called.

Macron's ruling coalition came in second in Sunday's round of elections.
Macron's ruling coalition came in second in Sunday's round of elections.Ludovic Marin/AP

Macron, who is heading to Washington this week for a NATO summit, says he will wait to decide his next steps. But new legislators start work on Monday, and their first session is scheduled for 18 July.

Macron may seek a deal with more moderate elements of the left, but France has no tradition of this kind of arrangement. Such negotiations are therefore expected to be difficult, and could result in an informal and fragile alliance.

Sylvain Maillard, a former president of the Renaissance group at the National Assembly who was re-elected under the Ensemble banner, suggests it will take “several weeks” to form a majority.

“It's just that it's going to take time for us to have a programmatic basis. It's not in France's culture to have to build coalitions and alliances, so it's going to take a little longer. But when I look at our European partners, it takes several weeks, so we're probably in for several weeks of discussions," he said.

France Unbowed founder Jean-Luc Melenchon delivers a speech after the second round of legislative elections in Paris.
France Unbowed founder Jean-Luc Melenchon delivers a speech after the second round of legislative elections in Paris.Thomas Padilla/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Macron has previously said he will not work with the hard-left France Unbowed party, but he could yet reach out to other parties in the New Popular Front such as the Socialists and the Greens. However, that doesn't mean they will be open to his offer.

One person unlikely to be in the picture is the leader of the hard-left France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

While Mélenchon says the leftist alliance is “ready to govern", Macron refuses to work with him, and so far his own coalition has not proposed him — or anyone else — for the job. The 72-year-old founder of France Unbowed is disliked by many moderates and often perceived as authoritarian.

Political rivals have argued that the left's win in Sunday's parliamentary elections stemmed more from fear of the far right than any attraction for Mélenchon or his party. For now, New Popular Front leaders say further internal discussions are needed.

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