Macron Loses Absolute Majority in Parliament, Projections Show

Latest polls suggest that the new left alliance could win more seats than expected and threaten the centrists’ ability to deliver domestic reforms

Reuters
Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron walks out of a voting booth in Le Touquet, France on Sunday.
French President Emmanuel Macron walks out of a voting booth in Le Touquet, France on Sunday.Credit: POOL/ Reuters
Reuters
Reuters

President Emmanuel Macron is on course to lose his absolute majority in the National Assembly and control of his reform agenda after the first projections by four pollsters showed Sunday's election delivering a hung parliament.

Macron's centrist Ensemble! alliance was set to end up with the most seats, the polls showed, followed by the left-wing Nupes bloc headed by the hard left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Forecasts by pollster Ifop, OpinionWay, Elabe and Ipsos showed Ensemble! winning 200-260 seats and Nupes securing 149-200. The threshold for an absolute majority is 289 seats in the lower house.

A hung parliament would open up a period of political uncertainty that would require a degree of power-sharing among parties not experienced in France in recent decades, or else result in political paralysis and even repeat elections.

If the outcome is confirmed, Macron's ability to pursue further reform of the eurozone's second-biggest economy will hinge on his ability to rally moderates outside his alliance on the right and left behind his legislative agenda.

Macron, 44, became in April the first French president in two decades to win a second term but he presides over a deeply disenchanted and divided country where support for populist parties on the right and left has surged.

He had appealed for a strong mandate during a campaign held against the backdrop of a war on Europe's eastern fringe that has curbed food and energy supplies and sent inflation soaring, eroding household budgets.

"Nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to the world's disorder," the president had said ahead of the second-round vote.

Melenchon's Nupes alliance campaigned on freezing the prices of essential goods, lowering the retirement age, capping inheritance and banning companies that pay dividends from firing workers. Melenchon also calls for disobedience towards the European Union.

Macron's political allies cast Melenchon as a "sinister agitator" who would wreck France. Christophe Castaner, one of the ruling party's most senior lawmakers, derided his economic program as "stacked with cliches from the Soviet era".

"It is out of the question for me to vote for Melenchon’s absurd proposals – exiling ourselves from Europe and other nonsense of that kind. And they would be impossible to finance,” said pensioner Joyce Villemur who voted in Sevres just outside Paris.

The initial estimates indicated Nupes had fallen comfortably short of winning a ruling majority but had deprived Macron of the same and would become the largest opposition bloc in the Assembly.

If Macron and his allies miss an absolute majority by a wide margin, as the initial projections suggest, they might either seek an alliance with the conservative Les Republicains or run a minority government that will have to negotiate laws with other parties on a case-by-case basis.

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