French left, centrists, tussle to form government

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
5 min read

Leaders from the left-wing bloc that topped France’s legislative election on Sunday and the runner-up centrists continued on Wednesday a frenzied race to try to put together rival bids to form a viable government.

The unexpected outcome of the snap election, in which the left benefited from a surprise surge but no group won an absolute majority, has plunged France into uncertainty, with no obvious path to a stable government.

The New Popular Front (NFP) alliance of the hard left France Unbowed, Communists, Socialists and Greens and Macron’s centrists both tried to woo lawmakers from each other’s camp and beyond.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“I think there is an alternative to the New Popular Front,” Aurore Berge, a senior lawmaker from Macron’s Renaissance group told France 2 TV. “I think the French don’t want the NFP’s platform to be implemented, I think they don’t want tax increases.”

“We are the only ones who can extend (our base),” she said, adding that the conservative The Republicans could be an option for such a deal.

Phones are ringing constantly, with some calls made by centrists trying to poach enough lawmakers from the mainstream left to create the basis for a government, political sources have told Reuters.

Meanwhile, leftist leaders also took to the airwaves to stress that, having topped the election, they should run the government - with a prime minister and cabinet the different parties that constitute the NFP are yet to agree on.

Strained finances

Amid warnings from rating agencies, what France does with its strained public finances will be an early test of whether it can still be governed. Financial markets, the European Commission and its euro zone partners are all watching closely.

It would customary for President Emmanuel Macron to call on the biggest parliamentary group to from a government, but nothing in the constitution obliges him to do so.

Options include a broad coalition and a minority government, which would pass laws in parliament on a case by case basis, with ad hoc agreements.

Macron “must allow the left to govern,” leftist leader Francois Ruffin told Le Monde.

Macron, whose term ends in 2027, looks unlikely to be able to drive policy again, having been beaten by the far-right National Rally in last month’s European election and by the left in the snap legislative election he called against the will of some of his own supporters.

Carole Delga, from the Socialist Party, stressed that the left on its own cannot govern, and must extend its hand to others - but on the basis of the NFP’s tax-and-spend program.

But others took a harder line.

“The NFP has the greatest number of deputies in the National Assembly, it is therefore up to the NFP to constitute a government ... this is what we are working towards,” Manuel Bompard, from France Unbowed, told LCI TV.

Read more:

Melenchon, ‘divisive’ supremo of France’s hard-left, poses coalition conundrum

How the far-right in France went from first to third in decisive election

Top Content Trending