What does Macron expect? Majority in power, suspended parliament or cohabitation | world news
PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron could find himself without a majority in power in his second term and unable to advance his economic reform agenda with a free hand after a new left-wing alliance did well in the first ballot.
The second round will take place on Sunday. Here are three possible outcomes.
Frightened by increasingly strident warnings against Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard-left platform, voters elect more than 289 Macron-backed candidates to parliament.
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He will have carte blanche to push through his manifesto, which includes a disputed pension reform. Even so, the president is unlikely to find it as easy to push legislation through parliament as he did in his first term.
His former prime minister, Edouard Philippe, widely thought to have presidential ambitions, has created his own party, officially part of Macron’s majority, and is likely to want a say in legislation, pushing for more conservative policies on pensions and public deficits, for example.
With a tight majority, even a small contingent of lawmakers could help make Philippe a kingmaker during Macron’s second term.
Macron’s coalition does not reach the 289 mark and does not hold the majority of seats despite being the largest party in parliament.
This is an unusual event under the Fifth Republic, and there is no institutional rule to follow to build a coalition, as is the case in countries like Belgium or the Netherlands.
Macron may have to reach out to other parties, likely center-right Les Républicains, to form a coalition, which would likely involve offering top ministerial roles to rivals and manifesto tweaks in return parliamentary support.
He could also try to poach lawmakers individually and offer sweeteners to entice them to break ranks with their parties.
Failing that, Macron could be forced to negotiate bill by bill, securing centre-right support for his economic reforms, for example, while trying to win centre-left support on certain social reforms.
This would slow the pace of reform and could lead to a political stalemate in a country where consensus building and coalition work is not embedded in the political culture.
But the president would still have a few tricks up his sleeve. He could, at any time, call for a new early election, for example, or use Article 49.3 of the constitution which threatens a new election if a bill is not approved.
Mélenchon defies the polls and his Nupes alliance wins a majority in the National Assembly. According to the French constitution, Macron must appoint a prime minister who has the support of the lower house, and “cohabitation” ensues.
Macron is not obliged to choose the person proposed by the majority for the post of prime minister.
However, if he refused to appoint Melenchon, a power struggle would almost certainly ensue with parliament, with the new majority likely to reject any other candidate put forward by Macron.
Cohabitation would leave Macron with few levers of power in his hands and disrupt his reform agenda. The president would retain leadership of foreign policy, negotiate international treaties, but cede most day-to-day policy decisions to the government.
There were few periods of cohabitation in post-war France. They have generally led to institutional tensions between the president and the prime minister, but have been surprisingly popular with the electorate.
Polls show this to be the least likely of the three outcomes.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Catherine Evans)
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