French president urges opposition to decide between coalition or case by case agreements on bills to carry reforms.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron shelved the “national unity government” and urged the opposition parties to compromise and act in favor of national interest in a national address on Wednesday.
France is currently gripped with a political crisis after no party won a majority in the national assembly. Macron’s proposal of forming a “government of national unity” involving alliances with political parties on the left and the right was largely being snubbed by the opposition party leaders.
Following the legislative elections on Sunday, Macron’s Ensemble alliance, comprising five political parties, won 245 seats falling short of the 289 required for an absolute majority.
Acknowledging the voter’s mandate of fractured majority, Macron said he cannot ignore the deep divisions. However, since his party’s alliance has the relative majority, it must expand to pass key pieces of legislations and reforms. He said this can be done “either by building a coalition contract, or by building majorities text by text.”
“We will have to build compromises. … It is possible to find a clearer and larger majority to act,” he said in the televised speech, the first after Sunday’s legislative elections.
He gave the opposition parties 48 hours to inform him whether they prefer a coalition or case-by-case agreement on particular bills. He said, moving forward, the country must adapt to a different style of governance, as there is an urgency to carry reforms.
He underlined that in the coming weeks of the summer season, the government intends to take emergency measures to meet the country’s needs on energy and climate, purchasing power, and health, for which it will need cooperation from the opposition parties in the national assembly.
The speech was made after Macron’s meeting with the opposition parties in the last two days failed to achieve a breakthrough in the political crisis. The opposition parties declared a lack of trust in Macron and a clash of ideas with his policies.
Bruno Retailleau, the head of The Republicans group which won 62 seats in the assembly, ruled out the idea of joining the national unity alliance as he said his party is “not Macron-compatible.”
“How do you want to make a contract when the trust is not there? Macron is the man of all reversals,” he told LCI news on Wednesday, adding that the party will sit in the opposition as is the mandate instead of joining the ruling majority and “betraying the will of our voters.”
On the Left front as well, there has been no interest in switching cards in favor of the ruling alliance. Adrien Quatennens, the deputy leader of La France Insoumise (LFI), after his meeting with Macron on Wednesday, said his party is not in favor of “any arrangement” as it stands on the opposite side of Macron’s policy. The LFI is part of the NUPES coalition headed by Jean Luc Melenchon which won 131 seats.
Fabien Roussel, the national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF) told LCI news that while the idea is appealing given the party’s track record of participating in a unity government formed by former President Charles de Gaulle in 1945, it was “complicated” this time “because the level of distrust towards him (Macron) is really strong.” He stressed that the head of state will have to make strong promises to bring together such a government.
Macron, re-elected in the April presidential elections against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, is facing stiff cynicism from voters. His insistence on carrying out pension reforms — increasing the retirement age to 65 — and the lack of urgency to fight inflation and climate change are emerging as key issues of differences among the opposition.
The president also mentioned the unity government to his rival Le Pen during her visit to the Elysee on Tuesday, she confirmed.
Parliament Affairs Minister Olivier Veran, however, dismissed shaking hands with Le Pen’s National Rally which won 89 seats in the assembly or with the Left LFI.
According to Veran, the enlargement of the majority would entail alliances based on issues with the left and the right with those parties who are “in the republican arc.” Macron’s Ensemble alliance would sometimes get the left parties on board and sometimes right, depending upon their interests to get certain legislation passed in the National Assembly.