French President Emmanuel Macron lost control of the National Assembly in legislative elections on Sunday, a major blow that could plunge the country into political paralysis unless it is able to form an alliance with other parties.
Macron’s centrist Ensemble coalition, which wants to raise the retirement age and deepen EU integration, was set to end up with the most seats in Sunday’s election.
But they would fall far short of the absolute majority needed to control parliament, nearly as the final results showed.
ALSO READ: French President Emmanuel Macron dodges, avoids tomatoes days after winning election
A broad left-wing coalition was set to be the largest opposition group, while the far-right won record-high victories and was likely to become the conservative kingmaker.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the result a “democratic blow” and said that if other blocs do not cooperate, “it will block our ability to reform and defend the French.”
A hung parliament would require a degree of power-sharing and compromise between the parties not experienced in France in recent decades.
There is no set script in France for how things will unfold now. The last time a newly elected president failed to obtain an absolute majority in parliamentary elections was in 1988.
Also read: Macron of France defeated Le Pen to win second term, changed resolution
“The result is a risk to our country that we face,” Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne said, adding that from Monday, Macron’s bloc will work to find a coalition.
If a legislative deadlock occurs, Macron may eventually call mid-term elections.
“The presidency’s defeat is complete and there is no clear majority,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a staunch left-wing veteran, told supporters.
Left-wing Liberation called the result “a slap” for Macron and the economic daily Les Echos “an earthquake”.
United, the left-wing parties behind Mélancheon, were seen to triple their score from the last legislative election in 2017.
Also read: French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in Hindi, PM Modi hinted
In another significant change for French politics, far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally Party could see a tenfold increase in MPs from 90-95 seats, according to early estimates. This will be the party’s biggest ever representation in the assembly.
Early estimates by pollsters Ifop, Opinionwe, Elabe and Ipsos gave Macron’s Ensemble coalition 230–250 seats, the left-wing Nups coalition 141–175 and Les Republicans 60–75.
Macron in April became the first French president to win a second term in two decades, as voters rallied to keep the far-right out of power.
But, seen as out of touch by many voters, he presides over a deeply disillusioned and divided country, where support for populist parties on the right and left has increased.
His ability to further reform the euro area’s second-largest economy rests on winning support for his policies from moderates outside his coalition on both the right and the left.
Macron and his allies must now decide whether to seek a coalition with the conservative Les Republicans, which ranks fourth, or runs a minority government that needs to negotiate bills with other parties on a case-by-case basis. Have to do
Government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire said: “On the bench, on the right, there are moderates on the left. Liberals are socialists and on the right there are people who, perhaps, on the law, will be on our side.”
Also read: Embracing and diplomacy: PM Modi, Macron discuss bilateral, global issues in Paris
The platform of Les Républiques is more compatible with Ensembles than with other parties. In the final results, both have a chance for an absolute majority, which requires at least 289 seats in the lower house.
Les Republicans chief Christian Jakob said his party would remain in opposition but be “constructive”, suggesting case-by-case deals rather than coalition agreements.
The former head of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, and Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon lost their seats in two major defeats for Macron’s camp.
Macron had appealed for a stronger mandate during a bitter campaign held against the backdrop of a war on the eastern edge of Europe, which has tightened food and energy supplies and driven up inflation, slashing household budgets. .
Mélancheon’s Noops Coalition campaigned for lowering the prices of essential goods, lowering the retirement age, limiting inheritances, and banning companies paying dividends from firing workers. Melenchon also called for defiance of the European Union.
ALSO READ: PM Modi congratulates ‘friend’ Emmanuel Macron on his re-election as French President
Also read: PM Modi warmly received by French President Macron in Paris