French opposition leaders told beleaguered President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday that they will not make his life easy. in his bid to avoid political gridlock following this weekend’s electoral setback in Parliament.
After accusing him of “arrogant”, some opponents claimed that Macron should dismiss his prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, in addition to reviewing her reform plans and abandoning her top-down approach to power.
Having enjoyed total control over parliament for the past five years, Macron now needs the support of opponents, as voters unhappy with inflation and their perceived indifference elected a hung assembly on Sunday. But it won’t be easy. The election result may herald an era of political instability not seen in decades in France.
“I told the president that a coalition agreement was out of the question, that would be a betrayal of our voters”said Christian Jacob, leader of the conservative Les Republicanains, after meeting with Macron, whom he described before “arrogant”.
Les Republicanains are the most obvious place for Macron to find support. His economic platform is largely compatible with the president’s, including his plans to raise the retirement age by three years to 65.
However, the Conservatives, whose former presidents include Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac have so far ruled out a formal German-style coalition pact.
Still, Jacob said his party will be “responsible,” apparently opening the door to complicated project-by-project negotiations. However, he stressed that, even in that case, it is up to Macron to make the effort to take on his proposals.
For its part, Jean-Luc Melenchonwhich united the left in an alliance that won the second largest number of deputies, told the media that Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne had to go.
“Madam Prime Minister, you must come here and request the vote of the deputies to have confidence,” publicly claimed, in statements to the media from Parliament. “We’re wasting our time until he’s gone,” he said bluntly, in a sign of how combative his side intends to be.
The Elysee said that Borne presented his resignation, but Macron rejected it so that the government can continue working. However, the wording of the Elysée statement hinted that it could only be a temporary reprieve, at a time when much is up in the air.
Marine LePenwhose far-right National Group now has 89 deputies, compared to eight in the previous legislature, stressed that Macron must listen to what his party has to say and “he cannot continue the policy he has led (until now)”.
Olivier Fauré, leader of the Parti Socialiste, which joined the left-wing Nupes bloc before the elections, said that his party could back some political proposals, but only if Macron buys into his ideas.
“We have had a period called Jupiter in which the president decided alone and in which he was not accountable to anyone “Faure told the press. “From now on (…) he is obliged to accept a greater role for Parliament (…) and it is healthy for him to be accountable, to negotiate, to seek points of agreement.”
If Macron does not obtain the necessary support for the laws to be approved, France could face a long period of political blockade that could force it later to call early elections, an eventuality that Manuel Bompard, a legislator from Melenchon’s party, predicted will happen “sooner or later.”
A government source said Macron is not interested in calling early elections now, but that “it is a card to play in case the country comes to a standstill.”
(With information from Reuters)
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