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The French opposition tells the "arrogant" Macron: a compromise to win support

The French opposition tells the “arrogant” Macron: a compromise to win support

  • Conservatives say coalition deal would be ‘betrayal’
  • Office of the President says search for constructive solutions
  • The far right says “We must hear.”

PARIS, June 21 (Reuters) – French opposition leaders told President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday they would not make life easy for him as he sought to find a way to avoid political paralysis after an election setback in parliament last weekend.

Some opponents said Macron should sack his prime minister, review his reform plans and abandon his top-down approach to power.

While he has enjoyed complete control of parliament for the past five years, Macron now needs to garner support from opponents, having angered voters with inflation and his perceived indifference to a hung parliament on Sunday.

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The election result may herald an era of political instability that France has not seen in decades.

Senior ministers said the government would continue its work and would seek support in parliament whenever it needed a majority.

Edouard Philippe, Macron’s former prime minister and influential figure, has urged parties to form a coalition to secure a ruling majority. This would be a first in modern French politics.

“For the first time in France, we need to form a coalition, a big coalition of people who automatically do not want to work together and put forward different political programmes,” Philippe told BFM TV.

He said he could “imagine” a deal with conservative Republicans, the former political family of Philippe from which he defected after Macron was first elected in 2017.

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But Republican Party leader Christian Jacob said after his meeting with Macron: “I told the president that it was out of the question to enter into a coalition agreement, this would be a betrayal of my voters.”

Yacoub had earlier described the president as “arrogant”.

But cracks began to appear in his camp. Catherine Vautrin, a Les Republicans cited as a candidate for Macron’s new prime minister, urged her party to soften its stance.

“Do all Republican lawmakers share Christian Jacob’s view? I’m not sure,” she said. “Always being in the opposition is pointless.”

She said her camp could find common ground with Macron on the planned reforms, particularly regarding pension legislation.

Les Republicains provide the most obvious place for Macron to find support. Their economic platform is largely in line with Macron’s programme, including his plans to raise the retirement age by three years to 65.

Jacob said his party would be “responsible”, apparently opening the door to potentially messy negotiations on the basis of the bill.

“Wasting our time”

The Elysee Palace said the pro-European president, who wants to deepen EU integration, make France work longer and build new nuclear plants, wants this week’s talks with the opposition to “identify possible constructive solutions”.

If Macron fails to secure support for the adoption of the laws, France could face a prolonged period of political stalemate that could later force him to call early elections.

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Jean-Luc Melenchon, the hard-left veteran who united the left in an alliance that won the second largest number of MPs, told reporters that Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne had to leave.

“We’re just wasting our time,” he said.

The Elysee said Bourne had submitted her resignation but Macron had refused so that the government could continue to operate.

There appears to be no quick fix at hand, and from Thursday Macron – who has not spoken publicly since the election – will be distracted by a week of international meetings abroad, including EU, G7 and NATO summits.

flexibility

Marine Le Pen, whose far-right National Rally now includes 89 deputies, out of eight in the previous legislature, said Macron must listen to what her party has to say and “cannot continue the policy he is leading (yet)”.

Olivier Faure, the leader of the Socialist Party, who joined the left-wing Nobis bloc ahead of the election, said his party could support some of the policy proposals – but only if Macron embraced their ideas.

“We went through what’s called the Jupiter period when the president decided on his own and where he’s not answerable to anyone,” Faury told reporters.

“From now on… he is forced to accept a greater role for Parliament… and it is good to be responsible, to negotiate, to seek points of agreement.”

According to the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Fabien Roussel, Macron was considering forming a government of national unity and asked him if he would participate.

“It’s not something that shocks us – getting involved with others to rebuild France – but it all depends on the project,” Roussel told LCI.

Additional reporting by Dominic Vidalon, Ingrid Melander, John Irish and Tassilo Hamill, writing by Ingrid Melander and Richard Love; Editing by Alison Williams, Angus McSwan and Richard Boleyn

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