PARIS — In a disastrous outcome for French President Emmanuel Macron, his centrist alliance will fall short of an absolute majority in a parliamentary runoff vote that logged significant gains for both the hard left and the far right.
In what is a major upset for the French president, voters massively came out in support of the right-wing National Rally as well as the left-wing coalition NUPES, depriving Macron of a ruling majority, early projections after the second round of the parliamentary elections showed.
According to poling agency IPSOS, Macron’s coalition Ensemble! has won 224 seats, compared with 149 seats for NUPES, led by the far-left firebrand Mélenchon, and 89 seats for the far-right National Rally.
Several party heavyweights, including the speaker of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand and former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner lost their seats. Heath Minister Brigitte Bourguignon also looks set to lose her seat and would be forced to resign.
Speaking on French TV channel BFMTV, Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti said the results were “a disappointing first place.”
The runoff vote determines the composition of the National Assembly, the parliament’s lower chamber. In a first round of voting last Sunday, Macron’s coalition of parties was neck and neck with the NUPES alliance, sparking fears that the French president’s popularity was sharply in decline.
This is the first time an elected president will only have a relative parliamentary majority since François Mitterrand in the 1980s.
If confirmed, the results effectively mean parliament will be paralyzed, and Macron will find it difficult to pass any legislation, including his controversial plans to reform France’s pension system. The results are likely to lead to weeks of negotiations as Macron seeks allies from rival parties. The conservative Les Républicains, who are projected to win 78 seats, are potential allies, but Macron looks likely to need dozens of them to come on board to be able to push through his policies.
In April, Macron won a second mandate with 59 percent of the vote, compared with 41 percent for the far-right Marine Le Pen.
In an attempt to dramatize the stakes of the vote, Macron called on the French to give him a working majority as he was departing on a trip to eastern Europe that including a stop in Ukraine, warning voters not to add “French disorder” to “world disorder”.
The NUPES alliance is led by the far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the third man of the presidential election who pushes for more tax and spend policies, wants to exit NATO’s integrated command and disobey bits of EU treaties he disagrees with.