Macron’s party loses outright majority in French parliament

Left-leaning lawmakers defected on Tuesday to rob President Emmanuel Macron's party of its outright majority in France's National Assembly in a symbolic but non-paralysing setback for the embattled reformist leader.

Seventeen members of Macron's La Republique En Marche (LREM) party said they had formed a new political grouping named “Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity” (EDS) to pursue greener policies, “modernise” the political system, and reduce social inequalities.

“After Covid-19, nothing will be like before,” they said in a statement and insisted “we can do more and better in the National Assembly.”

The 577-member assembly is the lower house of parliament, but has the final say on most legislation over the upper house or Senate.

The Assemblée nationale – not the Senate – has the final say over most legislation in France. Photo: AFP

Macron's then brand-new LREM took 308 seats in 2017 elections that saw the centrist leader swept to power from relative obscurity.

Lawmakers have quit the party at a trickle since then, and it was finally left with 288 seats on Tuesday – one fewer than the 289 required for an outright majority.

The governing party insisted that Tuesday's loss was not “cataclysmic”, as it could continue to rely on smaller, allied parties for a voting majority in the assembly.

Macron's popularity has zigzagged as he has fought a succession of political battles starting with the so-called 'yellow vest' rebellion of 2018-2019 that was sparked by widespread anger against a leader seen by critics as the president of the rich and out of touch with ordinary people.

That was followed early this year by France's longest continuous transport strike over the former investment banker's plans to reform the country's pension system.

This month, an opinion poll showed only about a third of French people had confidence in Macron to manage the country's problems.

This came as the country looked to Macron to spearhead the fight against the coronavirus outbreak that has seen the economy tank in spite of several billions of euros in government interventions to prop up businesses and save jobs.

One of the vice-presidents of the new EDS grouping is Cedric Villani, who opted to stand as an independent candidate for Paris mayor in March local elections after Macron chose someone else to represent the party.

Cedric Villani stood to be mayor of France as an independent candidate. Photo: AFP

Villani denied Tuesday that any “rebellion” was at play.

In its declaration, the EDS listed 15 priorities that included “reindustrialising” the economy, seeking “real transparency” in politics and boosting a public health system caught ill-prepared for the coronavirus crisis.

Member comments

  1. Of course he’s detested; he’s trying to pull the French out of the quagmire of socialist la la land.

  2. “Macron’s popularity has zigzagged”? His popularity sank like a stone a few months after taking office and stayed there.

    If Villani is “power-mad”, then what does that make Macron, he of the 49-3, no press conferences and Yellow Vests steamrolling, LOL? Power-uber-insane?

    Of course he has defectors. The chap is a one-term president who will be detested far more in French culture and their history books than Sarko or Hollande, that’s for sure, and that is no small achievement.

  3. Villani, just another power mad person who is looking for an opportunity to raise his own profile….

  4. “…the EDS listed 15 priorities that included “reindustrialising” the economy, seeking “real transparency” in politics…”
    What a load of codswallop! Reindustrialise doesn’t sound very compatible with greener policies and real transparency in politics is a contradiction in terms. It sounds to me like a bunch of politically opportunistic shysters. At the very time, for the sake of the country, they should be supporting the president they helped to elect, they desert him. As for M Villani, he maybe a genius, but I wouldn’t trust him with my biro if he needed one.

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