23, June 2022
French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation for the first time on Wednesday since his centrist coalition lost control of parliament in Sunday elections. “We must learn to govern and legislate differently,” Macron acknowledged in his first public comments following the election setback.
The president said the opposition was ready to work with him on “major” issues and promised measures on inflation, climate change and unemployment sometime this summer. He went on to call on legislative groups to be clear in indicating “how far they are ready to go”.
Macron acknowledged that the parliamentary elections had highlighted social problems in France, but he called on the opposition parties to “leave in-fighting behind” and to move “beyond politics”. The current political impasse should not lead to “stagnation” but to renewed dialogue and a new “willingness to listen to each other”.
He added that he had been re-elected in April on a platform of “ambitious reform”, which he said he plans to carry out. Macron’s Ensemble (Together) coalition emerged as the largest party in the final round of parliamentary elections on Sunday but was dozens of seats short of keeping the parliamentary majority it had enjoyed for the last five years.
Macron’s centrist alliance finished 44 seats short of a majority in the lower house National Assembly as a new left-wing coalition known as NUPES made gains and the far-right party of Marine Le Pen posted its best legislative performance in its history.
The NUPES (New Popular Union) alliance – which brings together the La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), the Socialist Party, the Greens (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts) and the Communist Party under the leadership of eurosceptic far-left figurehead Jean-Luc Mélenchon – more than doubled the score of its combined parties in 2017.
The situation has called into question Macron’s ambitious plans for reform in his second term after his re-election in April – including a controversial measure to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. It also marks the first time in 20 years that a president has not had an absolute majority in parliament.
Macron has been holding two days of talks with opposition leaders at the Élysee Palace, including with the head of the far-right National Rally party Marine Le Pen, to find a way out of the crisis.
Analysts have said the most viable solution would be a deal between Macron’s centrist alliance and the conservative Les Républicains, a party on the decline that nevertheless won 61 seats. But after talks with Macron on Tuesday, party leader Christian Jacob ruled out any kind of “pact” with Macron’s alliance and said his party prefers to remain in the opposition.
Macron’s remarks on Wednesday were his first public comments on the election results, a significant setback for a president with an ambitious domestic reform agenda and one who is keen to play a key role in international crises, including the war in Ukraine.