pro-business agenda appeared in jeopardy Tuesday after France’s conservative party Les Républicains rejected the idea of an alliance with the French leader to form a majority in Parliament.
Mr. Macron’s centrist party, Renaissance, and its allies lost their majority in the National Assembly in Sunday’s parliamentary elections after losing seats to the far right and the far left. An alliance with Les Républicains would allow Mr. Macron to retain the commanding majority that allowed the French leader to steamroll the opposition during his first term.
“Entering into a pact or coalition is out of the question,” Les Républicains President Christian Jacob told reporters Tuesday after meeting with Mr. Macron at the Élysée presidential palace, adding that it would be a betrayal of his supporters’ trust.
Without a clear majority, Mr. Macron will face a battle in cobbling together enough parliamentary votes to advance his political agenda. The French leader will be forced to negotiate with lawmakers from the left and the right to push individual bills through parliament, including plans to raise the retirement age.
“The country will be difficult to govern, and the government will struggle to provide visibility to companies and investors,” said Bruno Cautrès, a political scientist at Paris-based Sciences Po university.
Mr. Macron’s party won the most seats in parliamentary elections Sunday but fell short of the 289 needed to form a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly.
Renaissance and its allies garnered 245 seats. The coalition led by far-left leader
—whose party forged an alliance with French socialists, communists and greens—won 131 seats.
Marine Le Pen’s
far-right National Rally got 89, while Les Républicains and its allies won 61 seats.
On Tuesday, Mr. Macron rejected an offer by newly appointed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to resign, a spokeswoman for the French president’s office said.
It is not the first time that a French president has governed without a clear majority in the National Assembly. In 1988, the government of Socialist President
had to negotiate with far-left and center-right lawmakers to pass legislation after the Socialist party failed to secure a majority in Parliament. But the Socialist Party was just 14 seats short of a majority. Mustering the support of 44 other lawmakers will be a far bigger challenge for Mr. Macron.
The government is ready to work with all those who want to take the country forward, a spokeswoman for the government said Sunday.
The first bill on the National Assembly’s table will be emergency measures on purchasing power. French inflation hit a record in May as the war in Ukraine sent food and fuel prices higher.
Mr. Macron wants to increase civil servants’ salaries, index pensions to inflation and allow companies to pay tax-free bonuses of up to €6,000, equivalent to $6,313, to its employees. He also plans to offer checks to low-income households to buy food and help pay the fuel bills of people who need to drive to work.
But his government will be under pressure to do more to get the backing from left-wing parties, which propose setting price caps on essential goods and increasing the minimum wage.
“Emmanuel Macron had a first five-year term during which he concentrated power in his hands in an extraordinary manner. I hope he understands this period is totally over,” said Olivier Faure, the leader of the French Socialist Party, who met with Mr. Macron on Tuesday.
Mr. Macron will also need the support of Les Républicains to press ahead with his plan to raise the retirement age in France, which faces fierce opposition from the left and unions.
“It will be a difficult balancing act,” Mr. Cautrès said.
Write to Noemie Bisserbe at [email protected]
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