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Shock Results: France Faces Hung Parliament after Left-wing Rise

The results of the runoff round of France’s legislative elections have shown that the leftist coalition won the most parliamentary seats, reported Reuters.

Although this keeps the far right away from power, it raises the prospects of a hung parliament as no single group secured an outright majority, adding to the political uncertainty in France.

Shocking Results

After Sunday election, the leftist New Popular Front (NFP) won the most seats in the National Assembly. However, with the absence of a working majority of at least 289 seats out of 577, the NFP’s options include forming a minority government or building a broad coalition.

Shock Results: France Faces Hung Parliament after Left-wing Rise
People gathering after election results

According to the Interior Ministry data, NFP won 182 seats, while Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance won 168 and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) and allies won 143.

In the first round, the RN secured 33% of the vote, bringing the far-right closer to power and dealing a hard blow to Macron, who called for snap election after defeat in the European Parliamentary elections in June.

Blow to Macron

The election results delivered a heavy blow to Macron and leaves France’s economy in a state of uncertainty, ushering in a period of political instability weeks before the Olympic Games that Paris will host from July 26 to August 11.

In the absence of majority and the lack of ability to implement his plans, Macron emerged weaker from the election. This will negatively impact France’s role in the European Union and on the global stage. The President’s term lasts until 2027, and he said he will not step down before its end.

New Prime Minister

So far, no figure has emerged as a possible future prime minister and the French President said he will wait for the new National Assembly to organize itself before deciding his next steps.

In this regard, Green leader Marine Tondelier, one of NFP potential candidates for the position, said: “According to the logic of our institutions, Emmanuel Macron should today officially invite the New Popular Front to nominate a prime minister.”

She told RTL radio: “Will he or won’t he? As this president is always full of surprises, we’ll see.”

The current Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, said he would submit his resignation on Monday, adding that he is ready to assume a caretaker role. However, it is not clear if Macron will accept the resignation immediately.

Shock Results: France Faces Hung Parliament after Left-wing Rise
Gabriel Attal

“I will of course do my duties as long as it’s needed – it cannot be otherwise on the eve of a date (the Olympics) that is so important for our country,” Attal said.

Tough Negotiations

The NFP includes the French Communist Party, hard-left France Unbowed, the Greens and the Socialist Party. The parties held their first talks overnight to discuss the way forward.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of France Unbowed, said the new prime minister should be chosen from the NFP. However, the bloc is deeply divided over who to elect for this position, as it has no leader.

Some centrist figures, including the former prime minister Edourad Phillipe, expressed their willingness to reach an agreement to form a stable government. However, they were not ready to work with Melenchon’s party, which they consider as extremist as Le Pen’s RN.

Deep Divisions

The French left has experienced deep divisions in recent months, particularly after the October 7 attack and the ensuing war in Gaza, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Melenchon’s France Unbowed has faced sharp criticism from other moderate leftists for its stance on the conflict. Meanwhile, hard-leftists have strongly condemned Israel’s conduct of the war, accusing it of committing genocide against Palestinians. As a result, they faced accusations of antisemitism.

Shock Results: France Faces Hung Parliament after Left-wing Rise
France Unbowed leader, Jean-Luc Melenchon

However, Macron’s call for snap election brought left parties closer and led them to agree on forming a new coalition, the NFP. They promise to increase the minimum wage from 1,400 to 1,600 euros, scrap Macron’s pension reform that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 and freeze prices of essential food products and energy.

Expert Reactions

Marchel Alexandrovich, economist at Saltmarsh Economics, London, told Reuters: “The result is a surprise, with the Left Wing Alliance doing much better than expected. However, fundamentally, it still suggests a period of difficult cohabitation for Macron and it will be a challenge for him to push forward with a strong legislative agenda.”

Similarly, Cornelia Woll, President and professor at Hertie School, Berlin, said: “All in all, Emmanuel Macron’s risky bet has not produced a clear parliamentary majority. He now finds himself in the same situation as before, in which his party has no backing to push through ambitious legislative proposals.

“This unstable situation will now be the new normal until summer 2025, as the constitution prohibits the president from dissolving parliament again before a year has passed,” Woll added.

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