President Emmanuel Macron’s own ministers on Monday described his failure to win a parliamentary majority as “a democratic shock” that could “block our capacity to protect the French”.
The head of state was this morning still reeling from “an earthquake” election that saw massive gains for both the far-Left and the far-Right.
Projected results from yesterday’s parliamentary election put Mr Macron’s centrist Together (Ensemble) alliance on 234 seats — well down on the 289 that are needed for a working majority in the National Assembly.
The French equivalent of the House of Commons will now include a record 89 MPs from the far-Right National Rally, and around 124 from the radical Left-wing Nupes alliance.
Finance minister Bruno Le Maire, one of Mr Macron’s closest allies, called the result “a democratic shock”. Mr Macron’s prime minister, Elisabeth Bourne, also sounded extremely fearful saying: “The result is a risk for our country in view of the challenges we have to face.”
Economics daily Les Echos headlined the result as “an earthquake” while Liberation said it was “a slap” for Mr Macron. The president — who swept to power as an independent in 2017 without ever having been an MP — remained silent this morning, instead leaving his ministers to assess the disaster.
The last time a newly elected head of state failed to get an outright majority in parliamentary elections was 1988, when the Socialist Francois Mitterrand was forced into “cohabitation” with a conservative prime minister. Mr Macron has avoided that possibility but will still have to forge alliances as he attempts to bring in business-friendly reforms.
These include raising the retirement age from 62 to 65 and making it easier for bosses to hire and fire.
The Nupes alliance led by Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon is set to be the biggest opposition group but, as with Marine Le Pen’s far-Right National Rally, Mr Macron will find it hard to work with them.
Ms Le Pen meanwhile heralded a “new chapter” in French politics and said her parliamentary group would represent “all patriots who wish to defend our country against collapse”.