PARIS (Dispatches) – French President Emmanuel Macron could face a no-confidence vote after his parliamentary majority was wiped out, with French voters ditching their “arrogant” leader and opting instead for the far-right and far-left.
The chastened president, who only two months ago won the presidential elections, now has his tail between his legs after his alliance hemorrhaged 105 seats, meaning he will struggle to force through his centrist agenda.
Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s left-wing Nupes alliance were the major winners in Sunday’s vote, which decides the make-up of the 577-seat National Assembly, France’s lower chamber.
Nupes said it now plans to put forward a no-confidence vote against the government on July 5.
Nupes is the second-biggest grouping in the lower house of parliament, following Sunday’s election, but does not have enough votes on its own to get the no-confidence vote adopted, and has few allies in a very fragmented parliament.
But it represents another humiliation for Macron, who was forced to rely on voters across the spectrum to stop Le Pen winning the presidential elections two months ago amid his waning popularity.
The electorate turned against Macron’s “arrogance”, a government source said, with Le Pen’s National Rally growing from eight to 89 seats, and the Nupes alliance winning 131 seats to become the main opposition force.
Macron’s centrist alliance won the most seats - 245 - but fell 44 seats short of a straight majority.
He will now need to rely on the support of the right-wing Republican party to meet the threshold of 289 to pass bills in the lower house.
It means he will now face a struggle to implement his manifesto promises to further deepen European Union integration, raise the retirement age and inject new life into France’s nuclear industry.
Critics say voters turned against Macron for being out of touch and elitist, failing to appoint a new prime minister for weeks after his election, the embarrassment of the chaotic Champions League final in Paris, and being too pro-business.
While the left and right focused on the cost of living crisis by cutting the cost of food and oil while raising minimum wages, Macron alienated voters after five years of loosening labor protections and slashing employment benefits.
One source said: “It’s a message about the lack of grassroots and the arrogance we have sometimes shown.”
Macron came to power as an independent in 2017, and his En Marche ! (On The Move!) party enjoyed a parliamentary majority throughout his first five years in power.
But it has been diminished constantly, meaning he now has to rely on allies to support him in the National Assembly.
Macron won his second and final term in April, promising to bring in tough new pro-business reforms, including making it easier for bosses to hire-and-fire.
This has given the ex-merchant banker and tax civil servant the nickname ‘President of the Rich.’