Thursday, June 20, 2024

Macron to receive opposition leaders for talks after losing majority

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French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting opposition leaders for two days of talks at the Elysée Palace starting Tuesday after his ruling coalition lost its absolute parliamentary majority in Sunday’s vote. As is customary after an election rout, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne offered her resignation but Macron turned it down. 

Going into the talks, Macron believed the government needed to “stay on task and act” and the president was seeking “constructive solutions” to the political deadlock in talks with opposition parties, said a presidential official, who asked not to be named.

Macron met with the leaders of right-wing parties, along with Socialist and Communist party chiefs, at the Elysée palace Tuesday, and in a rare move, also hosted far-right leader Marine Le Pen for talks as he seeks solutions to a situation that risks plunging his second term into crisis two months after it began.

The spectre of political paralysis and the breakthrough performance by the far right under Le Pen has also raised questions over Macron’s leadership in Europe as he seeks to maintain a key role in dealing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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The Elysée said French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, blamed by some analysts for heading a lacklustre campaign, had offered her resignation to Macron but the president turned it down.

Macron started Tuesday’s flurry of discussions by talking with Christian Jacob, the head of the traditional conservative Republicains (LR), a party on the decline in recent months but which now would be key to giving the president an absolute majority.

No ‘coalition’ in sight with the LRThe options available to Macron range from seeking to form a new coalition alliance, passing legislation based on ad hoc agreements, or even calling new elections.

An alliance with the LR, which have 61 MPs, would have been ideal but after an hour-long meeting with the president, Jacob ruled that out.

“We’re not going to betray those who showed faith in us. Those who voted for us did not do so that we could enter with little thought into any old coalition,” Jacob told reporters. Even so, Jacob said his party would be “responsible” and would not “block the institutions”, seemingly opening the door to cooperation on a bill-by-bill basis.

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Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure and Communist Party boss Fabien Roussel, members of the NUPES (New Ecological and Social Political Union) left-wing alliance, also met Macron, although the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who leads NUPES, is not scheduled to do so.

Faure adopted a more conciliatory stance after his meeting with Macron, saying he was prepared to move forward with the government if it took measures on the key issue of purchasing power.

The aim is to “build solutions to serve the French” at a time when there is no “alternative majority” to that of Macron’s ruling alliance, said a presidential official who asked not to be named.

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