Monday, July 15, 2024

Hung Parliament threatens political paralysis in France


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Paris, July 8: French voters divided their legislature among left, center and far right, with no single political faction getting even close to the majority needed for form a government. The risk of paralysis loomed Monday for the European Union’s second-largest economy.
President Emmanuel Macron gambled that his decision to call snap elections would give France a “moment of clarification,” but the outcome showed the opposite, less than three weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics thrusts the country on the international stage. France’s main share index opened with a dip in response to the vote.
According to the second-round results tallied early Monday, a leftist coalition surged to take the most seats in parliament. Macron’s centrists have the second-largest faction and the unpopular president will have to form alliances to run the government. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, which led in the first round of voting, came in third after political manoeuvring to keep its candidates from power.
Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said he would present his resignation Monday, but could stay on through the Olympics or longer if needed. Newly elected and returning lawmakers were expected to arrive at the National Assembly to begin negotiations in earnest. Macron himself will leave later in the week for a NATO summit in Washington.
Political deadlock could rattle markets and have far-ranging implications for the war in Ukraine, global diplomacy and Europe’s economic stability.
According to official results released early Monday, all three main blocs fell far short of the 289 seats needed to control the 577-seat National Assembly, the more powerful of France’s two legislative chambers. The results showed just over 180 seats for the New Popular Front leftist coalition, which placed first, ahead of Macron’s centrist alliance, with more than 160 seats. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and its allies were restricted to third place, although their more than 140 seats were still way ahead of the party’s previous best showing of 89 seats in 2022.
Macron has three years remaining on his presidential term.
In announcing his resignation, Attal made clearer than ever his disapproval of Macron’s shock decision to call the election, saying “I didn’t choose this dissolution” of the outgoing National Assembly, where the president’s centrist alliance used to be single biggest group, albeit without an absolute majority.
Rather than rallying behind Macron as he’d hoped, millions took the vote as an opportunity to vent anger about inflation, crime, immigration and other grievances – including his style of government.
The New Popular Front’s leaders immediately pushed Macron to give them the first chance to form a government and propose a PM. It pledges to roll back many of Macron’s headline reforms, embark on a costly program of public spending, and take a tougher line against Israel because of its war with Hamas. But it’s not clear, even among the left, who could lead the government without alienating crucial allies.
Macron refuses PM’s resignation
French President Emmanuel Macron refused the resignation of PM Attal, asking him to remain temporarily as the head of the government. Macron gambled that his decision to call snap elections would give France a “moment of clarification”, but the outcome showed the opposite, less than three weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics, when the country will be under an international spotlight. (AP)


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