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Macron retains Prime Minister place for stability after chaotic election in France

Macron retains Prime Minister place for stability after chaotic election in France

Macron retains Prime Minister place for stability after chaotic election in France

Macron retains Prime Minister place for stability after chaotic election in France

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  • French President Emmanuel Macron declined Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s resignation following chaotic election results.
  • The New Popular Front leftist coalition secured just over 180 seats, ahead of Macron’s centrist alliance.
  • Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and its allies came in third place, with over 140 seats.
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French President Emmanuel Macron declined the resignation of the country’s prime minister on Monday, requesting him to temporarily continue as the head of the government following chaotic election results that left the government in limbo.

French voters divided the legislature among the left, center, and far right, with no faction coming close to the majority required to form a government. The results of Sunday’s vote heightened the risk of paralysis for the European Union’s second-largest economy.

Macron gambled on his decision to call snap elections, hoping it would provide France with a “moment of clarification.” However, the outcome demonstrated the opposite less than three weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics, when the country will be under international spotlight.

France’s main share index opened with a dip but quickly recovered, possibly due to market fears of an outright victory for the far right or the leftist coalition.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal had stated he would stay in office if necessary but tendered his resignation on Monday morning. Macron, who appointed him just seven months ago, promptly requested him to continue “to ensure the stability of the country.” Macron’s key political allies participated in the meeting with Attal at the presidential palace, which concluded after about 90 minutes.

On Sunday, Attal made it clear that he disagreed with Macron’s decision to call the surprise elections. The results of two rounds of voting left no obvious path for forming a government for either the leftist coalition, which came in first, Macron’s centrist alliance, or the far right. Newly elected and returning lawmakers were expected to convene at the National Assembly to commence negotiations in earnest.

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Macron himself will depart midweek for a NATO summit in Washington. The political deadlock could have far-reaching implications for the war in Ukraine, global diplomacy, and Europe’s economic stability. Nonetheless, at least one leader expressed relief over the results.

“In Paris enthusiasm, in Moscow disappointment, in Kyiv relief. Enough to be happy in Warsaw,” Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a former European Union Council head, wrote late Sunday on X.

Official results released early Monday showed that all three main blocs fell far short of the 289 seats needed to control the 577-seat National Assembly, France’s more powerful of the two legislative chambers.

The results revealed that the New Popular Front leftist coalition secured just over 180 seats, placing first ahead of Macron’s centrist alliance, which obtained more than 160 seats. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and its allies came in third place, with over 140 seats, marking a significant increase from the party’s previous best showing of 89 seats in 2022. Macron has three years left in his presidential term.

Instead of rallying behind Macron as he had hoped, millions seized the vote as an opportunity to vent anger about inflation, crime, immigration, and other grievances — including his style of government.

The leaders of the New Popular Front immediately pressured Macron to give them the first opportunity to form a government and nominate a prime minister. The faction plans to reverse many of Macron’s major reforms, initiate an expensive program of public spending, and adopt a tougher stance against Israel due to its conflict with Hamas. However, it remains unclear, even within the left, who could lead the government without alienating crucial allies.

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“We need someone who offers consensus,” said Olivier Faure, head of the Socialist Party, which joined the leftist coalition and was still sorting out how many seats it won on Monday.

Macron warned that the left’s economic program, involving tens of billions of euros in public spending partly financed by taxes on wealth and increases for high earners, could be ruinous for France. The country is already criticized by EU watchdogs for its debt. A hung parliament represents unfamiliar territory for modern France, prompting a mix of relief and apprehension among many people.

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