France’s President Macron loses outright majority in parliament after members of LREM party quit
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron has lost his absolute majority in the French parliament after 10 defectors joined a new bloc to demand a more left-wing agenda.
Macron’s LREM party now has only 285 in the National Assembly, which is four short of a majority. Seven LREM members are joining the new Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity (EDS) faction along with ten MPs from other parties.
Macron’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian today called the defections ‘a pity’ but said the government would still be backed by other centrist MPs.
Parliamentarians have grown frustrated with Macron over his tight grip on decision-making and his pro-business policies.
The French president is elected separately from the National Assembly, meaning that Macron does not need parliamentary backing to remain in power. However, an anti-Macron majority in parliament could frustrate his agenda, which has already stalled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Macron had been trying to regain momentum for his reform agenda after weeks of pension strikes and months of ‘yellow vest’ protests before that.
LREM is still supported by the centrist MoDem party, which may now have more leverage over government policies.
Richard Ferrand, the president of the National Assembly and a Macron ally, said the government could still count on 342 votes in the lower house.
The new EDS group does not have the formal structures of a party, but its members are likely to be ejected from Macron’s LREM.
The group will be chaired by Paula Forteza and Matthieu Orphelin, a close ally of former environment minister Nicolas Hulot who quit Macron’s government in frustration at the president’s policies.
Some local elections have been postponed this year because of the pandemic, including the second round of the Paris mayoral election.
Incumbent socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo had won the first round, with Macron’s candidate in third.
Macron is up for re-election in 2022 and a handful of polls have suggested that he would win again in a rematch with Le Pen in 2022, although by a smaller margin than before.
The National Assembly will also be up for election in 2022, meaning that LREM will have to fight for a new majority even if Macron retains the presidency.