PARIS, June 21 (AP): French President Emmanuel Macron was holding talks on Tuesday with France’s main party leaders after his centrist alliance failed to win an absolute majority in parliamentary elections.
The meetings at the Elysee presidential palace come after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne formally offered her resignation on Tuesday, in line with the tradition after parliamentary elections. Macron immediately rejected the offer and maintained the current government.
Macron’s Together! Alliance won 245 seats in Sunday’s parliamentary elections — but fell 44 seats short of a majority in the National Assembly, France’s most powerful house of parliament.
The leftist Nupes coalition won 131 seats to become the main opposition force. The far-right National Rally got 89 seats in the 577-member chamber, up from its previous eight.
Macron was to hold successive meetings with opposition members, including the president of The Republicans, Christian Jacob, and the head of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, and far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Other meetings were scheduled Wednesday.
Macron was also to meet with representatives of his own party and allied movements.
Talks were aiming at finding “potential constructive solutions” to the situation, according to Macron’s office.
Macron has not publicly commented on the elections’ results yet.
With the most seats at the National Assembly, his government still has the ability to rule, but only by bargaining with legislators. To prevent potential deadlock, Macron’s party and allies may try to negotiate on a case-by-case basis with lawmakers from the center-left and from the conservative party.
Macron was re-elected in April on an agenda including measures to boost purchasing power, tax cuts and raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 65.
On his way out of the Elysee, Jacob said The Republicans, who hold 61 seats, will remain an opposition force and won’t enter into any “pact or coalition” with Macron’s centrists. However, he opened the door to voting in favour of some measures if they are in line with his party’s platform.
He notably mentioned pension changes, since the conservatives are, like Macron, in favour of raising the retirement age.
Macron will also soon need to handle another issue: a government reshuffle. Three ministers — out of the 15 who were running for reelection — have lost their seats and won’t be able to stay in the government under the rules he set.
Government members were to hold a meeting on Tuesday afternoon at the Prime Minister’s office.
While keeping him busy at home, the situation at parliament is not expected to destabilise Macron’s international agenda. The French president holds substantial powers over foreign policy, European affairs and defense.
Macron is to travel to Brussels for a European summit scheduled on Thursday and Friday. He will then head to a G-7 meeting in Germany next week, followed by a NATO summit in Spain and a brief visit to Portugal.