French Left Vows to Govern Amid Political Gridlock Following Election Result

Featured & Cover French Left Vows to Govern Amid Political Gridlock Following Election Result

The French left has declared its intent to govern but acknowledged on Monday that negotiations would be challenging and protracted after Sunday’s election halted the far-right’s pursuit of power and resulted in a hung parliament.

Many of France’s allies felt relieved after Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) failed to secure victory in the snap election called by President Emmanuel Macron.

However, with the leftist New Popular Front (NFP) alliance, which was hastily formed before the election, unexpectedly emerging first but far from achieving an absolute majority, the election signaled a period of instability and potential gridlock.

“It’s not going to be simple, no, it’s not going to be easy, and no, it’s not going to be comfortable,” stated Green party leader Marine Tondelier. “It’s going to take a bit of time.”

Potential outcomes include the left forming a minority government, which would be vulnerable to no-confidence votes unless deals are struck, or creating a cumbersome coalition of parties with little common ground.

“We’ll need some time,” NFP lawmaker Pouria Amirshahi told Reuters as newly elected lawmakers arrived in parliament to collect their badges and settle in, noting that any option would be complex.

The NFP lacks a single leader and, with an estimated 182 MPs, falls significantly short of the 289 needed for an absolute majority. No other group holds a majority either. Macron’s centrists came in second, and the RN third, leaving the parliament divided into three factions.

“The President of the Republic must call on us to run the government, to respect the outcome of the election,” Manuel Bompard of the hard-left France Unbowed said before a meeting with the Socialists, Greens, and Communists to decide on the NFP’s strategy.

For Le Pen’s RN, the outcome was disappointing as opinion polls had predicted a victory for weeks. Despite increasing their number of MPs by more than 50 to 143, RN lawmaker Laurent Jacobelli told Reuters it fell short of expectations.

RN leader Jordan Bardella admitted the party had made mistakes, including in candidate selection, but assured that Sunday’s ballot had sown the seeds for the far-right’s future success.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, a centrist and Macron ally, offered his resignation, but Macron asked him to remain temporarily “to ensure the country’s stability,” according to the president’s office.

Weakened France?

A fragmented parliament will complicate pushing through a domestic agenda and is likely to weaken France’s role within the European Union and beyond.

“The most immediate risk is a financial crisis and France’s economic decline,” warned current finance minister Bruno Le Maire.

Despite the uncertainty, some voters welcomed the tripartite parliament.

“I think it’s great to have a diverse assembly like this, with roughly equal groupings. They will have to get along,” Valerie, who works in luxury, said in Paris.

However, Jean-Eudes du Mesnil, of the CPME small and medium businesses union, expressed concern about the NFP’s proposed policies.

“We’ll see whether they’re applied or not, but there are certain measures that are simply unthinkable,” he said, including a significant minimum wage increase.

The left appeared divided on whether to seek support from other factions, such as Macron’s centrists.

Olivier Faure, the Socialist leader, told France Info radio he expected the parties to agree on a plan this week but avoided answering whether the NFP would negotiate with Macron’s camp.

France Unbowed’s divisive leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has ruled out any deal with centrists.

However, the left-wing bloc, whose main proposals include reversing Macron’s pension reform and capping key goods prices, will need to reach agreements with lawmakers outside their bloc to govern effectively.

Macron Eclipsed

The NFP’s program, which if implemented, would likely strain France’s public finances further, was viewed negatively by financial markets before the election.

The euro fell by as much as 0.4% on Monday as investors considered the uncertainty.

Some prominent centrists expressed willingness to work on a pact but refused to collaborate with France Unbowed, which many French centrists view as extreme as the RN.

Macron, whose term ends in 2027, now seems unlikely to drive policy again, although he had already implemented much of his agenda, including increasing the pension age—a move that sparked street protests—and a contentious immigration bill.

With 32.05% of the votes, the RN received more support than any other single party on Sunday, but alliances, tactical voting, and its own mistakes prevented it from winning.

Adélaïde Zulfikarpasic of BVA Xsight pollsters questioned the RN’s preparedness and noted that some voters still found it “a little scary.”

In Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France, 61-year-old retired fisherman Denis Dewet, drawing parallels with presidential elections, said: “It’s because France doesn’t like the extremes.”

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