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Macron to receive opposition leaders for talks after humbling election result

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French President Emmanuel Macron will meet party leaders, including far-right Marine Le Pen, for talks, the Elysee said Monday after he and his allies lost their overall majority in the parliamentary elections.

Macron’s talks with opposition leaders are set to begin Tuesday with Christian Jacob, head of the traditional conservative Republican Party (LR) that has fallen into decline in recent months but could be courting Macron’s parliamentary majority.

Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure and Communist Party boss Fabien Roussel, members of the left-wing alliance of NUPES, will also meet Macron, although far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who leads NUPES, is not scheduled to do so. to do.

In a rare encounter, Macron will also host Le Pen, his presidential election rival and leader of the far-right National Rally.

The aim is to “build solutions to serve the French” at a time when there is no “alternative majority” to that of Macron’s ruling alliance, a presidential official who asked not to be named said.

Representatives of the parliamentary parties will be received separately and successively at the Elysée.

The result of the parliamentary election was a stunning blow to the president and his reform agenda, leaving his camp facing the prospect of a political deadlock.

While Macron’s Ensemble (Together) coalition remains the largest party after Sunday’s National Assembly elections, it fell dozens of seats short of retaining the absolute majority it had held for the past five years.

Mélenchon and Le Pen made huge gains and left them behind as key players in the new parliament.

resurgent opposition

The left-wing Liberation daily called the results a “slap in the face” for Macron, while conservative Figaro said he was now “facing an ungovernable France”.

Macron’s Together alliance won 244 seats, well short of the 289 needed for an overall majority, with low turnout resulting in a 53.77 percent abstention rate.

Macron met on Monday with his embattled Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and two top allies, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and centrist leader Francois Bayrou.

In the elections, NUPES became the main opposition force along with its allies with 137 seats, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior.

But it seems unlikely that the coalition of socialists, communists, greens and far-left France Unbowed will be able to keep the common cause in the legislature.

Mélenchon, the leader of France Unbowed who orchestrated the alliance, called the results “quite disappointing” and proposed on Monday that NUPES be turned into a permanent left-wing bloc.

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

Prime Minister vulnerable?

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

A confident Le Pen said her party would demand to become chairman of the National Assembly’s powerful finance committee, as is tradition for the main opposition party.

“The country is not ungovernable, but it will not be run the way Emmanuel Macron wanted it to be,” Le Pen told reporters on Monday.

Mélenchon said he would table a no-confidence vote against Borne in early July, when she must outline her policy priorities for the next five years.

Borne could now be vulnerable as Macron faces another cabinet shake-up after several of his top allies lost their seats.

His health and environment ministers have been beaten and will traditionally have to resign, as have the speaker of parliament and the head of Macron’s parliament group.

The result tarnished Macron’s presidential election victory in April when he defeated Le Pen, becoming the first French president to win a second term in more than two decades.

‘A lot of fantasy’

The options available to Macron range from seeking a new coalition alliance, passing legislation based on ad hoc agreements or even calling new elections.

One option would be an alliance with Republicans, who have 61 MPs.

But LR chairman Jacob has maintained that his party plans to “remain in opposition”.

Macron had hoped to mark his second term with an ambitious program of tax cuts, social security reform and raising the retirement age. All that is now up for debate.

In rare good news for the president, European Minister Clement Beaune and Public Service Minister Stanislas Guerini – both young pillars of his party – won a fierce battle for their parliamentary seats.

(AFP)

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