Tuesday 16th of July 2024

la france divisée.....

French government in limbo after elections produce hung parliament
France's legislative elections have resulted in a hung parliament, with the National Assembly divided into three distinct blocs. Although the leftist coalition, the New Popular Front, came out on top with 182 seats, it does not have an absolute majority. While Macron has asked Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to remain in his post “for the time being”, the shape of the future government looks uncertain. FRANCE 24 takes a look at possible scenarios that could unfold.

To huge surprise, the New Popular Front (NFP) – a broad alliance of the hard-left France Unbowed party, joined by Socialists, Greens and Communists – came out on top in France's second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday July 7.

While this made the NFP the largest political force in the National Assembly, it does not have an absolute majority. With 182 seats for the leftist coalition, 168 for President Macron’s centrists and 143 for the far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National, or RN) the Assembly, the lower house, is now divided into three distinct blocs.

Macron asked Gabriel Attal to remain as prime minister temporarily for “the stability of the country” on Monday, but France is faced with a political landscape that is without precedent since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

As negotiations get under way to attempt to forge a governing coalition, FRANCE 24 looks at potential scenarios that could unfold.

Scenario 1: Cohabitation with the NFP

The NFP’s 182 seats make it the biggest parliamentary group, but it is well short of the 289 needed to form a majority in the 577-seat Assembly.

Despite lacking an absolute majority, leaders of the NFP alliance called on Macron to appoint a prime minister from their ranks.

The founder of France Unbowed (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon said that Macron had “a duty to call on the New Popular Front to govern”.

He was seconded by the leader of the Grens (EELV), Marine Tondelier: “We’re going to govern,” she said.

In the event of the appointment of an NFP prime minister, France would enter a period of so-called cohabitation – when the president has lost a governing majority in the Assembly and is forced to name a prime minister from another party.

There have been three previous cohabitations since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958 – during the terms of office of Socialist President François Mitterrand, between 1986 and 1988, and again between 1993 and 1995, and then under Jacques Chirac between 1997 and 2002. 

But in each of these previous periods of shared power, either the right or the left had obtained an absolute majority in the Assembly.

“It’s a real victory for the New Popular Front, because no one predicted this two weeks ago, and today it becomes the leading group in the National Assembly,” notes constitutional law specialist Didier Maus. “But we’re going to have a situation we’ve never known before, with the absence of a stable, coherent, homogeneous majority, very different from the three cohabitations that took place previously. And there is no natural choice for prime minister in these political circumstances.”

Hastily formed after the dissolution of the National Assembly, the NFP is now faced with the challenge of deciding on someone to put forward as prime minister.

Discussions began on Sunday evening. “We need to be in a position to put forward a candidate within the week,” said Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure on Monday.

“We don’t need to have a new government named this week, we’re not in any of the scenarios of previous cohabitations, we're doing everything from scratch,” said Socialist Senator Corinne Narassiguin.

If an NFP-led government is formed, it could try to force legislation through the Assembly by decree. Article 49.3 of the Constitution allows a bill to be passed without a vote, a procedure that was denounced by both right and left when it was used by Macron, notably to impose pension reform.

“What was done by 49.3 can be undone by 49.3,” said Faure on France Info radio, while suggesting this was not an ideal method.

The notion of passing bills by decree was ruled out by Sandrine Rousseau, who was re-elected as a Green (EELV) MP, in an interview on BFMTV. “The New Popular Front will not govern by 49.3. We will respect the sovereignty of the National Assembly and its ability to make amendments and work on legislative bills. I think we need to make this very clear to the French people."

Scenario 2: Attal heads a provisional government

After the defeat of the president’s party on Sunday, Prime Minister Attal announced he would tender his resignation, in accordance with tradition. “Tonight, the political party I represented in this campaign, even though it has achieved a score three times higher than predicted in recent weeks, does not have a majority. So, in keeping with republican tradition and in accordance with my principles, I will hand in my resignation to the President of the Republic tomorrow morning,” he declared after the results were published.

His resignation was refused by Macron for “the stability of the country”, just as he had refused the resignation of former prime minister Élisabeth Borne after the 2022 legislative elections in which the president lost his absolute majority in the Assembly.

Attal will remain prime minister for an indefinite period. Attal, who was re-elected Sunday in his Hauts-de-Seine constituency on the outskirts of Paris, has said he was prepared to stay “as long as duty requires”, including during the Olympic Games, which start on July 26.

Scenario 3: a 'German-style' coalition

The other possibility is that of the formation of a “grand coalition” between different political groups, which would bring together a majority in the Assembly behind a consensus prime minister. This is a regular occurrence in parliamentary democracies like Germany and Italy. However, this consensual approach has never been employed in the Fifth Republic.

The idea of a coalition does not seem to have much traction. A possible alliance ranging from the left to the Macron centrists has been regularly ruled out on both sides. On Sunday evening, both Socialist leader Faure and LFI’s Mélenchon repeated their rejection of this option, saying they were opposed to “a coalition of opposites”.

Only Raphaël Glucksmann, co-founder of the centre-left Place Publique party, took a slightly different line: “We’re going to have to behave like adults, talk, discuss, dialogue,” he declared.

For its part, Macron’s party has repeatedly ruled out any alliance with France Unbowed – the leading party of the left alliance with 74 MPs.

The idea of an alliance between centrists and the conservatives of Les Républicains (LR) seems equally unlikely.

Laurent Wauquiez, a leading figure of the Républicains, which along with other right-wing parties has about 60 seats, has ruled out the involvement of his group in any “negotiations, combinations, to build unnatural majorities”.

Scenario 4: a minority government

It would be a gamble. A government can theoretically be appointed without the explicit support of an absolute majority of the Assembly.

The two previous governments, under prime ministers Borne and Attal between 2022 and 2024, only had a relative majority of 246 seats out of 577 (43% of seats) in the Assembly. Macron’s centrists were able to keep their governments in power because the opposition on both the right and the left were unable to join forces to overthrow them.

The NFP could theoretically form a minority government, but would need the tacit support of elected representatives of other political parties. The presidential camp could also form a new government but would face the same requirement.

In any case, such a minority government would live under the constant threat of a no confidence vote from the Assembly which could force the prime minister to resign. It would struggle to govern and be obliged to seek majorities on a case-by-case basis for each bill.

“A minority government can work if it’s not too far from a majority. But then there has to be a tacit agreement with the other political forces to let this government get on with the basics of governing, and not just immediately trash it,” sums up constitutionalist Maus.

Scenario 5: a ‘technocratic’ government

If the situation remains deadlocked, the appointment of a “technocratic” government may be called for. This would involve appointing non-partisan ministers – experts and technocrats – to manage the daily business of government and implement consensual reforms. The arrangement, which is somewhat vague, has never been tried under the Fifth Republic.

“Technocratic” governments have been used to govern in Italy, notably with Mario Draghi between 2021 and 2022. But this solution has often been a short-term one. It would be difficult for such a government to keep going over the long term, in the absence of legitimacy from the ballot box.

Scenario 6: No new dissolution

After Macron called for snap elections on June 9, a return to the polls to clarify the political situation is out of the question for the next year.

According to article 12 of the Constitution, “a new dissolution cannot be carried out in the year following” such elections.

The new National Assembly’s term in office will continue at least until the summer of 2025.

Scenario 7: Macron resigns

“If there is no majority, the solution to the deadlock is for him (Emmanuel Macron) to quit,” Mélenchon said before the second round of the vote. “It’s normal, he’s the one responsible for the mess.”

Macron’s resignation seems highly unlikely.  The day after he dissolved the Assembly to call early elections he said he would remain in office “whatever the result” of the vote.


le devoir.....

French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Gabriel Attal following the second round of national elections that left France with a hung parliament and no clear candidate to replace him.

The New Popular Front (NFP), which unites various leftist parties, cruised to a surprise victory in Sunday voting, claiming 182 seats in the National Assembly, according to the Interior Ministry. Macron’s centrist Ensemble alliance recovered after a poor performance in the first round and got 163 seats.

The rightist National Rally (RN), which was considered the favorite after trouncing Macron’s bloc in the first round, came third, with 143 seats. However, none of the groups was able to clinch the 289 seats required for an absolute majority in the legislature.

Macron’s office said in a statement on Monday that “the president has asked Gabriel Attal to remain prime minister for the time being in order to ensure the country’s stability.”

Riots occurred in Paris, Rennes and several other cities after the polls closed, with masked mobs tossing bottles at the police and setting bonfires in the streets. Officers used tear gas to disperse the angry crowds.

The snap election in France took place just three weeks before the 2024 Summer Olympic Games kick off in the capital.

Attal said on Sunday that after Macron’s coalition lost the election, “in keeping with republican tradition, I will tender my resignation to the president of the Republic tomorrow morning.”

However, the PM stressed that he would remain in the job “as long as duty requires” if his resignation is turned down. “Being prime minister is the honor of my life,” the 35-year-old said.

READ MORE: Le Pen’s party falls short of historic milestone in French election

Attal was appointed PM this January, becoming the youngest and the first openly gay head of government in French history. He previously served as the Minister of National Education and Youth, the Minister of Public Action and Accounts and as spokesman for the government of France.




breaking up?....

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Some left-wing lawmakers in France have proposed that a separate group be created in the parliament following the victory of the leftist New Popular Front (NFP) coalition in the parliamentary elections, French broadcaster BFMTV has reported.

The broadcaster reported on Tuesday that some elected lawmakers from the NFP have offered the Greens party and the French Communist Party, who are also a part of the coalition, to split from the coalition and create their own group. The initiative was voiced by lawmakers Clementine Autain, Alexis Corbiere and Francois Ruffin, who sent an official letter to the said parties on Tuesday, BFMTV reported.

The purpose of the new group is reportedly to compete with Jean-Luc Melenchon's France Unbowed party and the Socialist Party, and they reportedly will not participate in meetings in the same group as the France Unbowed party.

On Monday, the NFP coalition won the parliamentary elections, receiving 182 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, with France Unbowed receiving 75 seats, the Socialist Party - 65 seats, the Greens - 33 seats, and the French Communist Party - nine seats.