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Macron’s search for partners: rebuff from the conservatives

Macron’s search for partners: rebuff from the conservatives

Status: 06/21/2022 3:07 p.m

After losing the absolute majority in the parliamentary elections, French President Macron is dependent on partners. Today he held talks – and was immediately rebuffed: the Conservatives gave a clear “No”.

French President Emmanuel Macron is looking for partners for a government majority in parliament. After the defeat of his electoral alliance in the parliamentary elections, he therefore invited the top representatives of the most important parties to a one-hour talk. He spoke first to party leader Christian Jacob from the conservative Republicans and was immediately rebuffed. His party will “neither enter into a pact nor a coalition,” said party leader Jacob.

“I’m not German”

Jacob had already told the France Inter broadcaster before the conversation with Macron: “I’m not German, we have a different political system.” In France, coalitions have so far been unusual. Since Macron’s Ensemble electoral alliance, which is located in the political center, has lost its absolute majority, a coalition with the Republicans would be the obvious choice – at least in purely mathematical terms.

The Conservative party leadership of ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy quickly made it clear that they wanted to stay in the opposition. “We’re not the spare wheel,” stressed Jacob. And further: “He is the one who was arrogant and is now asking for help.”

Limited collaboration? Maybe

However, he was open to voting with the government on a case-by-case basis if the project in question was in line with his own party goals. In this context, he mentioned Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age.

The Socialists’ Olivier Faure also promised limited cooperation. He said there was a way forward, but his party would certainly not support policy decisions that go against its own campaign promises. Faure campaigned for the Left Alliance to raise the minimum monthly salary from around 1,300 to 1,500 euros.

Borne’s resignation rejected

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne offered her resignation, as is usual in France after a general election. Macron wants to reshuffle the government shortly, but initially refused to resign “so that the government can continue to do its work,” as the Elysée Palace said. The President is looking for “possible constructive solutions”. Borne called an emergency cabinet meeting for the afternoon.

Macron wants to consult with the party representatives today and tomorrow and will then take part in three international summits in Brussels, at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria and in Madrid. It is therefore considered unlikely that he will present a new government before then.

More talks on the agenda

The program also includes talks with Faure (General Secretary of the Socialists), with Stanislas Guérini (of Macron’s own Renaissance party), with Marine Le Pen (the long-time party leader and future group leader of the right-wing populist Rassemblement National) and with Fabien Roussel (Party leader of the Communists). .

Macron must at least fill the health and environment ministries because the current ministers ran and lost in the parliamentary elections. There is talk of Macron adding more state secretaries to the previous government team – and adapting it to the new majority.

An exceptional situation

The situation in France is special because the president’s center camp did not receive an absolute majority in the election, but only a simple majority – a situation that has not existed in France for more than 30 years.

Macron’s Ensemble Alliance received 245 seats in the second round of voting. 289 seats would have been required for an absolute majority, so far Macron’s camp had 350. According to the official final result, the left-wing alliance Nupes around Jean-Luc Melenchon has 131 seats, the extreme right around Marine Le Pen has 89, and the conservatives have 61 MPs.

The constellation with coalition governments that is usual in Germany has not existed in France for decades. The result could result in a political stalemate and new elections.

Resistance to reforms?

But it’s not just the search for partners, it’s also about the reforms. For Macron’s electoral alliance, the implementation of his reform plans is now becoming more complicated. The government has already warned of a blockade in the country.

The right-wing populist Le Pen, who will probably lead the largest opposition faction in the future, demanded several key positions in parliament for her Rassemblement National. In the coming days, the factions will be formed and the leaders of the factions will be elected. Le Pen’s right-wing populist Rassemblement National party is given faction status for the first time, which means more money, staff and speaking time.

Le Pen is scheduled to speak to Macron at the Elysée Palace this afternoon. Like the left-green electoral alliance, she announced Nupe’s opposition to Macron’s reform plans.

Positions diverge

A government bill to cushion the higher cost of living is likely to be a first test in just over a week, when the new parliament meets for the first time. The fight against inflation is now a priority for many voters.

However, the positions of the major parties differ on many important issues. Among other things, Macron wants to raise the retirement age and promote a business-friendly agenda and the integration of the EU. Meanwhile, Melenchon has campaigned to lower the retirement age from 62 to 60, freeze prices and ban companies from laying off workers if they pay dividends.

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