France Live Updates: Macron’s Coalition Expected To Prevail, But Will Weaken In Parliament

Credit…Pool photo by Michel Spinler

PARIS — The centrist coalition supporting President Emmanuel Macron of France was projected to come out ahead in Sunday’s crucial parliamentary elections, but a strong showing by an alliance of leftist parties and a rise of the far right prevented Macron’s forces from secure an absolute majority of seats, a setback that could complicate his second term.

Projections based on preliminary vote counts gave Macron’s centrist coalition 205 to 250 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, Parliament’s most powerful lower house, more than any other political group but less than half of all seats.

For the first time in 20 years, a newly elected president seems to have failed to achieve an absolute majority in the National Assembly, which will not stop Macron’s internal agenda, but will bring influence back to Parliament after a first term during which the style of Macron’s top-down government had mostly marginalized lawmakers.

In 2017, when Macron was first elected, his party and its allies won a landslide majority of 350 seats in the lower house of Parliament, which mostly went according to plan. This time, however, he will have to pay much more attention to the balance of power in the National Assembly.

Macron’s coalition, known as the Ensemble, should still be able to pass some bills. But his party, La République en Marche, will rely much more on his centrist allies than during his first term, especially to pass controversial projects like his plan to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 65. In some cases, Macron could even have to cross the aisle to reach opposition lawmakers, most likely to the right, to secure passage of a bill.

The vote was also marred by a record low turnout, a warning sign for Macron, who has vowed to govern closer to the people in his second term. Only about 46 percent of the French electorate went to the polls, according to projections, the second lowest level since 1958.

The alliance of leftist parties, known as the Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologique et Sociale, or NUPES, and led by veteran leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was expected to win between 150 and 190 seats.

That was not enough to take control of the National Assembly and force Macron to appoint Mélenchon as prime minister, as NUPES hoped. But it was a fine showing for left-wing parties that had been largely dismissed as hopelessly divided.

Marine Le Pen’s far-right party was also projected to secure 75 to 100 seats in the National Assembly, a record that could make it the third-largest political force in the lower house.

The alliance is dominated by France Unbowed, Mélenchon’s party, and also includes the Socialist, Green and Communist parties. It will remain the main opposition force in the National Assembly, but major political differences between coalition members on issues such as the European Union could resurface once Parliament is in session.

Lawmakers are elected for five years and Macron will not have to face mid-term elections for the next five years, ensuring that his majority cannot be overturned overnight.

But his party will rely much more heavily on his allies to maintain control. That could give more clout to parties like Horizons, a center-right group founded by Macron’s former prime minister, Édouard Philippe, which is more of a fiscal hawk and could demand adjustments to legislation.

The far right was one of the driving forces in the presidential race, but its leader, Marine Le Pen, was convincingly defeated by Macron and went on to run a lackluster campaign for parliamentary elections, although her party is still expected to achieve a record high. . Number of seats.

Instead, much of the campaign has been a bitter confrontation between the left-wing coalition and Macron’s forces, with both sides describing a possible victory by their opponents as an unmitigated catastrophe.

The left-wing coalition promised voters that they could metaphorically “elect” Mr. Mélenchon as prime minister, and he used his oratory to galvanize left-wing voters after a disastrous presidential election in which the left was divided and largely unpopular. marginal part.

Mélenchon promised that his coalition would make the legal retirement age 60, two years earlier than it is now, raise the monthly minimum wage to 1,500 euros, or $1,580, reform the constitution to reduce presidential powers and gradually eliminate the nuclear energy.

Macron, by contrast, seemed out of touch and more concerned with France’s diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine in its war against Russia. Speaking on an airport tarmac ahead of a trip to Eastern Europe that took him to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv this week, he urged voters to give him a “solid majority” in the “best interest of the nation,” but did little. campaigning himself.

Macron also hoped to breathe new life into his party’s campaign by appointing new ministers and, for the first time in 30 years, a female prime minister, Élisabeth Borne. But his cabinet was immediately rocked by the crisis, including rape allegations against a minister and protests over the government’s handling of a chaotic Champions League soccer final outside Paris.

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