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POLITICS

‘Unprecedented situation’ – Macron loses majority in French parliament

Emmanuel Macron's prime minister will begin work on Monday trying to secure a coalition after his party lost its majority in the French parliamentary elections.

'Unprecedented situation' - Macron loses majority in French parliament
France's President Emmanuel Macron cast his vote during the second stage of French parliamentary elections at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France on June 19, 2022. (Photo by Michel Spingler / POOL / AFP)

Macron’s centrist coalition Ensemble won 245 seats, making them the largest group but falling short of the 289 needed for a majority in the Assemblée nationale.

The left-wing Nupes alliance won 131 seats, while Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally made major gains and won 89 seats.

The final results were confirmed by the Interior Ministry in the early hours of Monday.

Macron’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne made a brief speech as the results came in, saying: “Tonight the situation is unprecedented.

“This situation constitutes a risk for our country, given the challenges that we have to confront,” she said in a televised statement, adding: “We will work from tomorrow to build a working majority.”

The result does not affect Macron’s position as president, but means he will find it difficult to pass laws without a majority in the Assemblée nationale. 

The Macron government has also lost several big names, as ministers including Health minister Brigitte Bourguignon and Environment minister Amélie de Montchalin lost their seats.

READ ALSO What happens next in France as Macron loses majority?

Key ministers in the Macron government admitted that the performance in parliamentary elections was “disappointing”.

The results are “far from what we hoped”, Budget Minister Gabriel Attal said on the TF1 channel, while Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told BFM television: “We’re in first place but it’s a first place that is obviously disappointing.”

Meanwhile the number two of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Jordan Bardella, hailed her party’s performance as a “tsumani”.

Macron and Borne – who won her seat in Calvados, Normandy – will to attempt to build an alliance over the next few days with centre-right (LR) and independent MPs in order to give him a majority in parliament.

The new left-wing coalition Nupes  – now the second-largest group in parliament – was formed in May after the left suffered a debacle in April presidential elections, and groups the centre-left Parti Socialiste, the hard-left La France Insoumise, Communists and greens.

The left only had 60 seats in the outgoing parliament.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party made huge gains after having only eight seats in the outgoing parliament.   

Turnout was again very low for the second round, where just 46 percent of people voted.

Several big-name Macron supporters have lost their seats, including Health minister Brigitte Bourguignon, Environment minister Amélie de Montchalin, former interior minister Christophe Castaner and Richard Ferrand, president of the Assemblée nationale.

Ministers who lose their seats as MP are not technically obliged to step down from their ministerial role, but Macron has said that they will be expected to do so. 

Damien Abad, the newly-appointed Disabilities minister who had been at the centre of a storm after he was accused of rape by three women, won re-election in Ain, northern France.

Europe minister Clément Beune – a Macron protege who was facing a very tight race in his constituency in Paris – beat the Nupes candidate by just 658 votes. 

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POLITICS

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

Foreigners living in France could get the right to vote in certain elections if a newly-created bill passes through parliament.

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

The newly elected president of the National Assembly’s law commission calmly lobbed a 40-year-old electoral hand-grenade into the political discourse of the summer – and then went on holiday.

Sacha Houlié, MP for the Vienne and a member of Macron’s LREM party, filed a bill on Monday that would, if passed, allow non-EU citizens living in France to vote and stand for office in local elections. 

Under current electoral legislation, only French citizens can vote in presidential and parliamentary elections; EU citizens in France can vote in local and European elections; and non-EU citizens have no voting rights in France whatsoever. 

EU citizens can also stand for office in local elections, but are barred from becoming mayor or running for a seat in the Assembly.

Since Brexit, Britons in France have not been allowed to vote in local or  local office, any many Brits who were on their local councils had to resign because they were no longer EU citizens.

Many countries limit voting for their citizens who are out of the country, so non-EU citizens living in France often do not have the right to vote in any country.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and the far-right Rassemblement National wasted little time criticising Houlié’s bill.

Darminin’s entourage said that the minister was “firmly opposed” to the idea.

The far-right party went further. “We have crossed the limits of indecency and incomprehension of what the French are asking for,” Rassemblement national spokesperson Laurent Jacobelli told Franceinfo, echoing the sentiment of the party’s interim president Jordan Bardella, who insisted the passing of the bill would mark the, “final dispossession of the French from their country”.

Houlié said: “The right to vote for European Union nationals in local elections already exists in France. No one is surprised that a Spaniard or a Bulgarian can vote in municipal elections. But it has surprised many people that the British can no longer do it since Brexit.”

Given the current shape of the Parliament in France, it seems unlikely that the latest bill will pass. But it is far from the first time it has been on the table.

François Mitterrand had pledged during his presidential campaign in 1981 to ensure “the right to vote in municipal elections after five years of presence on French territory.”

But, in the face of opposition from the right, he backed down from this particular promise. 

In October 2004, Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior, tried to move forward with an electoral plan that would have allowed non-EU citizens certain voting rights – but was blocked by his own UMP party.

François Hollande re-launched the proposal during his 2012 campaign, before quietly letting it go in the face of opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.

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