PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist coalition was projected to lose a majority in the final round of parliamentary elections on Sunday despite the most seats, while a right-wing national rally made huge gains.
Projections based on partial results suggest Macron’s candidate will win between 200 and 250 seats – far fewer than the 289 needed for a direct majority in the National Assembly, the most powerful house in France’s parliament.
The situation, which is unusual in France, is expected to make Macron’s political maneuvering difficult if projections are given.
A new coalition – made up of the Hard Left, Socialists and Greens – is projected to become the main opposition party with around 150 to 200 seats.
The national tally is expected to register a huge jump with potentially over 80 seats, up from eight earlier. Voting was held across the country to elect 577 members of the National Assembly.
Strong performances from both the national rally and leftist coalition led by hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon will make it harder for Macron to implement a re-elected agenda in May, which includes increasing tax cuts and France’s retirement. 62 to 65 years of age.
The leader of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, who lost to Macron in the presidential election in May, was re-elected in Henin-Beaumont, his stronghold in northern France.
“The Macron adventure has reached its end,” said Le Pen. The group of MPs at the national rally “will be the largest ever in the history of our political family.”
National Rally’s acting president Jordan Bardella compared his party’s performance to a “tsunami”. “Tonight’s message is that the French people made Emmanuel Macron a minority president,” he said on TF1 television.
“This is an electoral failure of Macronism,” Mélenchon said.
Macron’s government still has the ability to govern, but only by bargaining with legislators. The opposition may seek to hold talks on a case-by-case basis with lawmakers from the centre-left and Conservative party, with the goal of preventing lawmakers from being in sufficient numbers to reject the proposed measures.
The government may also sometimes use a special measure provided for by the French Constitution to adopt laws without a vote.
Government spokesman Olivia Gregoire said on France 2 television that “we have known better evenings.”
“It’s a disappointing top spot, but a top spot nonetheless,” she said.
“We’re helping everyone who is fine to move that country forward,” she said, referring specifically to the Republican Party, which is expected to have far fewer seats than others.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who himself won a seat in his district in northern France, insisted that Mélénchon “lost his bets” on winning the election. Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne also won a seat in western France.
A similar situation occurred in 1988 under socialist President François Mitterrand, who then had to seek support from communists or centrists to pass legislation.
These parliamentary elections have once again been largely defined by voter apathy – with more than half the electorate staying home.
19-year-old Audrey Pellet, who cast her vote at Bossy-Saint-Antoine in southeast Paris, was sad that so few turned up.
“Some people have fought to vote. It is too bad that most of the youth do not do this,” she said.
Macron earlier this week made a powerfully choreographed appeal to voters ahead of his trip to Romania and Ukraine, warning that an inconclusive election, or a hung parliament, would put the country at risk.
“In these difficult times, the choice you make this Sunday is more important than ever,” he said on Tuesday, with the president’s plane awaiting the visit of French troops stationed near Ukraine. “Nothing will be worse than adding French disorder to the chaos of the world,” he said.
Some voters agreed, and argued against electing candidates at the political extremes that gained popularity. Others argued that the French system, which confers broad power to the president, should give more voice to a multi-faceted parliament and the president should act with more control over the Elysee palace and its occupiers.
“I don’t fear a National Assembly that is more divided between different parties. I am looking forward to a regime that has more MPs and fewer presidents than you can have in other countries,” polling in southern Paris Simon Nuys, an engineer who did it, said.
“The disappointment was evident on the night of the first round for the leaders of the presidential party,” said Martin Quensz, political analyst at the German Marshall Fund for the United States.
Macron’s failure to win a majority could have ripple effects across Europe. Analysts predict that the French leader will have to focus more on his domestic agenda rather than his foreign policy for the rest of his term. This continental politician could spell the end of President Macron.