France faces political uncertainty amidst election impasse; what happens next?

No party got a clear majority in the elections

France govt uncertainity People wave French flags as they react to projected results after the second round of the legislative elections | AP

Following the elections that failed to produce a clear majority, France is entering a phase of political uncertainty. The final round saw the far-left coalition, the New Popular Front, make unexpected gains, disrupting the earlier dominance of the far-right and the centrist coalition.

What could happen next in France with no party gaining majority?

Also Read | French election results: Deadlock as left coalition emerges on top, Le Pen's far-right bloc pushed to third

Hung Parliament

None of the three major political blocs secured the 289 seats needed for a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly. This hung parliament situation is unprecedented in recent French political history. The National Assembly, the more powerful of France's two parliamentary houses, will start its new session on July 18, with the new legislators beginning work on Monday.

Macron's Dilemma

President Emmanuel Macron now faces the challenge of forming a stable government. One potential path is negotiating a deal with the moderate left, though this would be difficult given France's lack of tradition in such arrangements. Macron has ruled out working with the hard-left France Unbowed party but might seek an alliance with the Socialists and Greens. However, their cooperation is uncertain.

If no political deal is reached, Macron might appoint a government of unaffiliated experts, but this too would need parliamentary approval.

Divisions on the Left

The left-wing parties have been divided, especially following the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel. France Unbowed's criticism of Israel has been met with accusations of antisemitism, which they deny. Despite these divisions, the left formed the New Popular Front coalition to contest the recent elections. Their platform includes raising the minimum wage, reversing Macron's pension reforms, and freezing prices on essential goods, causing concern in financial markets.

Interim Government

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal offered his resignation, but Macron asked him to stay on temporarily. Attal's interim government will manage current affairs while political negotiations continue. Macron has indicated he will wait for the new National Assembly to organise before making any decisions on a new government. There is no set timeline or requirement for Macron to appoint a prime minister from the largest party in parliament.

Macron's Position

Macron's presidency, which runs until 2027, remains intact, though his ability to implement his agenda is weakened. He retains significant powers over foreign policy, European affairs, defence, and international treaties, and remains the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The new prime minister, accountable to parliament, will focus on domestic policy while Macron continues to handle France's international and defence matters.

There is also a possibility of appointing an apolitical or an independent candidate, just to run things smoothly for the time being with the upcoming Paris Olympics.


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