Macron’s centrist coalition won 245 seats in the 577 member National Assembly. It needs to win 289 seats for an absolute majority. At the same time, the far-left NUPES and the far-right National Rally finished 131 seats and 89 seats respectively.
In France a reinvigorated leftist coalition was already making headlines. It eventually robbed Emmanuel Macron of his majority in the National Assembly elections yesterday. Macron’s Ensemble could only muster 245 seats in the 577 member National Assembly. His leftist adversary Jean Luc Mélenchon’s red-green alliance secured 131 seats from his previous tally of 45 seats . On the other hand, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally bounced back with 89 seats.
How are Elections Held in France?
France holds Presidential and Parliamentary elections separately. Parliamentary elections are direct and people vote their representatives in their constituencies. These consist of elections to the 577 member National Assembly and the 328 member Senate. Candidates to the National Assembly are elected for a five year term. A political party has to win 289 seats to have full majority in the parliament.
Presidential elections, on the other hand, are held directly too, but voters elect presidential candidates. This year’s parliamentary election results are shocking for Emmanuel Macron as he clearly emerged victorious in the presidential election. However, the French Presidential elections this year was characterized by low voter turnout. The parliamentary elections too witnessed an abstention rate of 53%. The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has called the results “shocking”.
The most significant threat to Macron during the Parliamentary elections was from Marine Le Pen. This time, however, the left-wing NUPES coalition has challenged Macron. A lot many people voted Macron in the presidential elections to keep Marine Le Pen out. Also the left seemed divided among themselves and fielded multiple candidates. This time, however, a united left took away a section of voters who’d voted Macron. Also in 2017, Macron’s La Republic en Marche fielded newer, dynamic and ethnically diverse candidates. This year, the left coalition fielded newer candidates. Exit polls had predicted a tough fight for Macron’s coalition, yet they expected it to win more than half seats.
What Now for Emmanuel Macron?
Emmanuel Macron now has to seek support from his rivals to pursue any reforms. However, both the right and the left haven’t shown any inclination to work with him. Pundits say that he may reach out to the conservative Les Republicains for a majority. The Les Republicains gained 61 seats in the elections and may compensate for Ensemble losses. Other than that, Macron will have to talk to mainstream right and left parties for a majority.
Representatives from other parties will visit the Élysée Palace for high level talks today and tomorrow. Marine Le Pen will take part in the talks , while Jean Luc Mélenchon will not, reports AP. Socialists and Communists, led by Oliver Faure and Fabien Roussel will also meet Macron. Yesterday’s elections show that Macron won’t be able to bring any reform without support from either side.
Macron has already lowered corporate taxes from 33% to 25% and did away with the wealth tax. He has also brought welfare reforms cutting employment benefits and allowing easier layoffs. He now wants to raise the age of retirement from 62 to 65. Mélenchon’s coalition, on the other hand, stands diametrically opposed to these policies. They want the retirement age to be reduced to 60 and a minimum wage hike by 15%. They even oppose Macron’s labour reforms and corporate tax waivers. Macron has capped fuel and gas prices after the Ukraine war. The left wants a cap on all essential goods instead. Mélenchon also wants France to reject any EU treaty that interferes with French national policies. However, few support him over that.
Marine Le Pen too has plans of her own and would want to influence Macron’s policies.
(Inputs, BBC, The Hindu, Indian Express)