French President Emmanuel Macron has lost control of the National Assembly in legislative elections after considerable gains by a newly formed left-wing alliance, and record wins by the far-right.
The result, announced in the early hours of Monday, threw French politics into turmoil, raising the prospect of a paralysed legislature unless Macron is able to negotiate alliances with other parties.
Macron, 44, now also risks being distracted by domestic problems as he seeks to play a prominent role in putting an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and as a key statesman in the European Union.
The president’s centrist Ensemble coalition will still be the biggest party in the next National Assembly. But with 245 seats, according to full interior ministry results, it is well short of the 289 seats needed for a majority in the 577-member chamber.
A broad left-wing alliance, NUPES, united behind left-wing veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon, was set to be the most prominent opposition group, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party scored a ten-fold increase and will send 89 legislators to the new parliament.
“This situation constitutes a risk for our country, given the challenges that we have to confront,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said in a televised statement.
“We will work from tomorrow to build a working majority,” she said.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the outcome a “democratic shock” and promised to reach out to all pro-European parties to help govern the country.
The result severely tarnished Macron’s April presidential election victory when he defeated the far-right to become the first French president to win a second term in more than two decades. It also raises questions over Macron’s ability to deliver on his second-term agenda, including tax cuts, welfare reform and raising the retirement age.
“It’s a turning point for his image of invincibility,” said Bruno Cautres, a researcher at the Centre for Political Research of Sciences Po.