Frances elections end up with no clear majority. What could happen next?
Fireworks go off as people stand in Republique Plaza and react to the projection of results during the second round of the legislative elections in Paris. Photo: AP/PTI

France's elections end up with no clear majority. What could happen next?

Paris, Jul 8 (AP) Election results show French voters have chosen to give a broad leftist coalition the most parliamentary seats in pivotal legislative elections, keeping the far right away from power. Yet no party won an outright majority, putting France in an uncertain, unprecedented situation.

President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance arrived in second position and the far right in third — still drastically increasing the number of seats it holds in the National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament.

No clear figure has emerged as a possible future prime minister. Macron says he will wait to decide his next steps, and heads to Washington this week for a NATO summit. The new legislators can start work in parliament on Monday, and their first new session starts July 18.

A hung parliament? Three major political blocs emerged from the elections — yet none of them is close to the majority of at least 289 seats out of 577.

The National Assembly is the most important of France's two houses of parliament. It has the final say in the law-making process over the Senate, which is dominated by conservatives.

While not uncommon in other European countries, modern France has never experienced a parliament with no dominant party.

Such a situation requires lawmakers to build consensus across parties to agree on government positions and legislation. France's fractious politics and deep divisions over taxes, immigration and Mideast policy make that especially challenging.

This means Macron's centrist allies won't be able to implement their pro-business policies, including a promise to overhaul unemployment benefits. It could also make passing a budget more difficult.

Can Macron make a deal with the left? Macron may seek a deal with the moderate left to create a joint government. Such negotiations, if they happen, are expected to be very difficult because France has no tradition of this kind of arrangement.

The deal could take the form of a loose, informal alliance that would likely be fragile.

Macron has said he would not work with the hard-left France Unbowed party, but he could possibly stretch out a hand to the Socialists and the Greens. They may refuse to take it, however.

His government last week suspended a decree that would have diminished workers' rights to unemployment benefits, which has been interpretated as a gesture toward the left.

If he can't make a political deal, Macron could name a government of experts unaffiliated with political parties. Such a government would likely deal mostly with day-to-day affairs of keeping France running.

Complicating matters: Any of those options would require parliamentary approval.

Is the left divided? The left has been torn by divisions in the past months, especially after the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.

France Unbowed has been sharply criticised by other more moderate leftists for its stance on the conflict. Hard-left leaders have staunchly condemned the conduct of Israel's war with Hamas and accused it of pursuing genocide against Palestinians. They have faced accusations of antisemitism, which they strongly deny.

The Socialists ran independently for the European Union elections last month, winning about 14 per cent of the votes, when France Unbowed got less than 10 per cent and the Greens 5.5 per cent.

Yet Macron's move to call snap legislative elections pushed leftist leaders to quickly agree on forming a new coalition, the New Popular Front.

Their joint platform promises to raise the minimum salary from 1,400 to 1,600 euros (USD 1,515 to USD 1,735), to pull back Macron's pension reform that increased the retirement age from 62 to 64 and to freeze prices of essential food products and energy. All that has financial markets worried.

Why is a temporary' government needed? Prime Minister Gabriel Attal offered his resignation on Monday but Macron instead asked him to remain “temporarily” as head of the government after the chaotic election results left the government in limbo.

Attal has said he is ready to remain in the post during the upcoming Paris Olympics and for as long as needed.

Attal's government will handle current affairs pending further political negotiations.

Macron's office says he will “wait for the new National Assembly to organise itself” before making any decisions on the new government.

There is no firm timeline for when Macron must name a prime minister, and no firm rule that he has to pick someone from the largest party in parliament.

What about Macron? The president's term runs until 2027, and he has said he will not step down before its end.

With no majority and little possibility of implementing his own plans, Macron comes out weakened from the elections.

In line with France's Constitution, he still holds some powers over foreign policy, European affairs and defence and is in charge of negotiating and ratifying international treaties. The president is also the commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces and holds the nuclear codes.

There's a possibility the new prime minister would be unable or unwilling to seriously challenge Macron's defence and foreign policy powers and would focus instead on domestic politics.

The prime minister is accountable to parliament, leads the government and introduces bills. AP

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)
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