What happens now that Macron's party has lost its majority in the French Parliament?
Emmanuel Macron's party lost its parliamentary majority on Sunday (June 19), barely two months after he was elected to a second term as France's President.
Exit surveys indicated a tight struggle for Macron's Ensemble coalition of centrist parties, but it was still expected to win more than half the seats, especially after he became the first French President to be re-elected in over 20 years.
Also read: Why do France's parliamentary elections matter?
However, the results produced a hung parliament in which NUPES, a coalition of leftist parties, and UDC, a coalition of right-wing parties, both made significant gains. The results have rendered the country's political future uncertain, at a time when Europe is grappling with significant concerns such as inflation and energy security, as well as a rethinking of the EU's position in Europe.
The election results
In France, presidential and parliamentary elections are held separately. The latter are held to elect members of the country's 577-member lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly. The elections are direct, which means that voters in each constituency vote directly for their MPs.
The presidential elections are also direct, which explains why the shift in power dynamics occurred so rapidly following Macron's re-election in April. The results were described as a "democratic shock" by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
Although Macron's alliance remains the largest in the National Assembly, with 245 seats, it falls well short of the 289-seat majority. This means he'll need the backing of other coalitions and parties to get his proposals through. The administration recognises this; Le Maire stated that a lack of assistance from others would "limit our power to change and safeguard the French." Some have speculated that if Macron is unable to carry out his objectives, he may call hasty elections.
Rising inflation has been a big issue for voters in the two months since Macron's election, but voter indifference and abstention have also been visible. According to the BBC, the voting rate was only approximately 46 percent, implying that more than half of the voters did not exercise their right to vote.
Also See: Explanation: What happens now that Emmanuel Macron is back as President of France?
The next step
The legislative mix includes five main alliances, including the President's own. The largest coalition is led by Macron's center-right La République En Marche! (LREM) party, which he created in 2016. Proximity to the EU and economic liberalism are essential to its goal.
The left-wing New Ecologic and Social People's Union (NUPES), led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a vocal opponent of the President, is the second largest coalition. He is unlikely to embrace Macron's liberal economic strategy, thus while Macron wants to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65, Mélenchon wants it to be 60.
According to European media reports, Macron is most likely to approach Les Republicans (LR), another center-right party with which LREM has the most in common.
Marine Le Pen, who lost to Macron in the presidential elections in April, is also having success, with her party sending 89 candidates to the lower house of Parliament, the most in its 50-year history.
Europe and Elections
Mélenchon's coalition is now the second-largest group in Parliament, and he has previously stated that given the strength of France's economy, it could effectively bargain not to accept EU orders if its interests were jeopardised, according to Reuters.
"France wields considerable power throughout Europe." It accounts for 18% of the European economy. It is not the case of (Alexis) Tsipras' Greece, which bargained with 2% of the European economy," Adrien Quatennens, a prominent member of Mélenchon's party, told Franceinfo radio. Tsipras, currently the head of Greece's opposition, was Prime Minister from 2015 to 2019, when he signed a bailout agreement with lenders that included tough austerity measures.
France's stance on the Ukraine war may not alter significantly, as Macron, Le Pen, and Mélenchon have all expressed doubts about the US-led Western coalition's policy of isolating Russia.
However, the presence of strengthened centrist, hard left, and hard right lawmakers in the lower chamber would make it difficult for Macron to reach consensus on a variety of sensitive subjects.