Home News Deadlock? Instability? Without a clear majority, France’s future is uncertain

Deadlock? Instability? Without a clear majority, France’s future is uncertain

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French pollsters predicted based on preliminary results that France could be stuck in a continued political deadlock as no single party or coalition of parties appears to have won an outright majority of seats in parliament.

Experts say the immediate way out is unclear, but the country could face months of political turmoil, with President Emmanuel Macron facing a deeply divided parliament that includes two blocs firmly opposed to him.

“Without an absolute majority, the government will be left to the opposition to unite” and overthrow it, said Dominique Rousseau, professor emeritus of public law at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

Forecasts show the National Assembly, the lower house of France’s parliament, will be roughly divided into three main camps with conflicting agendas and, in some cases, deep hostility towards each other.

Forecasts released by pollsters late Sunday after the final round of voting in the legislative elections showed a group of left-wing parties called the New Popular Front would win the most seats, followed by Macron’s centrist coalition and the nationalist, anti-immigrant National Rally. It was not clear whether the centrist or right-wing National Rally would be the second-largest bloc.

At the moment, it looks like none of the three major parties can work with the others. Each could try to cobble together a working majority with a handful of smaller parties or independents, who would take up the rest of the House. But whether they can do that is uncertain.

“The political culture in France is not conducive to compromise,” said Sami Benzina, a professor of public law at the University of Poitiers, noting that French institutions are generally designed to produce “a clear majority that can govern itself.”

It is not unprecedented in France that no single party has managed to secure an absolute majority (at least 289 of the 577 seats in the Chamber of Deputies). This is exactly what happened in the last legislative election in 2022Macron still managed to form a functioning government and successfully passed several bills over the past two years.

But that’s only because Macron’s centrist coalition is large enough — about 250 seats — and the parties opposing him are too fragmented to pose a sustained threat. When that’s not the case, Macron’s government is On the verge of falling.

This time, Macron’s options appear much more limited.

His centrist coalition cannot govern on its own. And few smaller parties — even those on the more moderate left or right — are willing to work with Macron, who is deeply unpopular and has only three years left in his term.

The National Rally has said it will only govern if it has an absolute majority or one vote short and believes it can reach a deal with enough other lawmakers to make up the difference. Longtime leader Marine Le Pen told French radio last week that the party would not agree to “just sit in the ministerial chair and do nothing,” which she said would be the “greatest betrayal” of its voters.

On Sunday, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left-wing New Popular Front, said he would not enter into talks with Macron’s ruling coalition to form a government.

Some analysts and politicians have suggested that lawmakers could form a broad “rainbow” coalition that agrees on a limited number of key issues, ranging from the Greens to more moderate Conservatives, but some political leaders have ruled that out.

Another possibility is a caretaker government of politically neutral experts to handle day-to-day affairs until a political breakthrough occurs, which would also be a departure from French tradition.

France has a strong civil service and can manage for some time without a government. But the Summer Olympics are about to begin and parliament usually approves the budget in the fall. Some analysts believe Macron’s position will become untenable and he will have to resign, but he has said he will not.

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