How will Macron fare without an absolute majority?

After the second round of France's parliamentary elections the outcome is now clear: President Macron's Ensemble remains the strongest force but has lost its absolute majority. The second-strongest group is the left-wing alliance Nupes led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, while Marine Le Pen's extreme right-wing Rassemblement National party has become the third strongest parliamentary group. Commentators discuss what this means for France and Europe.

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El País (ES) /

Real debates or the usual circus

Commenting in in El País, French author Lilia Hassaine predicts exciting times in France:

“The Elysée Palace will cease to be the epicentre of power. ... Macron may be tempted to dissolve the National Assembly in a year or two. ... For years it has been a kind of antechamber to power. ... From now on, it will be at the centre of political activity. In the best case citizens will participate in real political debates and show more interest. In the worst case it will be the usual circus, a pathetic spectacle from which no party draws any benefit and which further increases the number of abstentions. Either way, the political period that is now beginning promises to be exciting and full of unforeseen events.”

Le Point (FR) /

The only one rubbing his hands in glee

In contrast to Macron's strongly pro-European stance upon his inauguration in 2017 the situation in France is now very different, Le Point fears:

“Five years ago the UK had just voted for Brexit, Italy was sinking into populism and Germany sent around 100 members of the far right into the Bundestag. France stood out for putting the En marche! candidate in the Elysée Palace to the strains of the Ode to Joy. Now it is giving voice to a deep-seated rejection of its elites, giving Europe the finger and sinking into the swamps of isolationism and a closed stance. ... The only one rubbing his hands in glee over the weakening of France is Vladimir Putin.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Putin's friends gaining influence

Yuri Panchenko, editor at Ukrayinska Pravda, and Nadia Kowal, Head of Information and Analysis at Ukrainian Institute, fear that Ukrainian concerns are taking a back seat in France:

“Macron's weakened position in the new parliament will force the president to focus more on solving the domestic crisis than on international affairs. This will mean both a weakening of his claim to leadership in Europe (which will strengthen Germany's) and more room for manoeuvre for 'Putin's friends'.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Le Pen will be toxic

Commenting in Adevărul, political analyst Cristian Unteanu fears that with the big gains for the far-right Rassemblement National, President Macron will be facing hard times:

“For the first time in history, Marine Le Pen's far-right party has scored such a huge success that it has increased its number of MPs in the National Assembly from eight to an incredible [just under] 90 MPs! For the first time, she will have her own parliamentary group. ... It will be the weakened Macron's main opponent, and a toxic and highly corrosive one to boot.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Shift to the right likely

Habertürk believes the most likely constellation is cooperation between Macron's group and the conservative Les Républicains, who secured 61 seats:

“The Republicans will cooperate with Macron on certain issues, such as raising the retirement age from 62 to 65. But they might demand a high price for their support in parliament, including a change of prime minister. Some of the party's heavyweights said on election night that they would not seek a broad coalition and would remain in opposition, but would play a constructive role within the framework of the laws to be enacted. Macron's centrist government will have no choice but to shift to the right.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

The left scored with climate change

Tygodnik Powszechny praises the French left:

“The election was undoubtedly a success for Mélenchon, who managed to unite a left that was highly divided after the presidential elections in April. ... It is to the left's credit that the key issue of the battle against greenhouse gas emissions finally made it into the election campaign. The fact that the election weekend was a sweltering one throughout France and its neighbouring countries highlights the topicality of the issue: in the south of France, temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius. To some extent the low turnout - only 46 percent of eligible voters went to the polls on 19 June - may have been due to this heat wave.”

La Croix (FR) /

Crash course in parliamentary practices needed

France's parliamentarians must now do their best to avoid bickering and strife, warns La Croix:

“It's one thing for there to be no winners after the legislative elections. Nevertheless it would also be good if there were not only losers. Of course, our country will not suddenly, miraculously, revive parliamentary culture. ... Our political class drinks wrangling, drum-beating and radicalism with its mother's milk. This attitude may help them to get elected, but it rarely helps them govern. In order to avoid a political crisis, everyone - above all the members of the National Assembly - should complete a crash course in good parliamentary practices and take a closer look at how politics is done in our neighbouring European countries.”

Berliner Morgenpost (DE) /

France's anger issues still unresolved

The Berliner Morgenpost sees the vote as a painful slap in the face for Macron:

“The president now needs partners to pass laws through parliament. The French are not used to that. The next five years will be tough for Macron. The president has not succeeded in overcoming France's deep divisions. Both the far right and the hard left are strongly anchored in society, and both are gaining ground. The yellow vest protests have disappeared from the streets, but the people's anger is still there. None of their problems have been solved. Purchasing power, energy security and pensions were the important issues. And on those fronts Macron's record is sobering.”

Libération (FR) /

Entering uncharted territory

Libération wonders if President Macron will now change his political style:

“The next five years will be terra incognita for Emmanuel Macron. He will be forced to discuss and negotiate. It is an understatement to say that the president hasn't exactly excelled in this task so far, either with MPs or with trade unions and associations. This failure has been punished in the parliamentary election. The head of state now has no choice. Is he ready for it?”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Macron simply the lesser evil

Jutarnji list interprets the results in connection with the presidential election:

“President Macron lost the voters' trust, and a majority of the population does not want him to continue governing without limitations. Yesterday's parliamentary elections showed that he only remained president because he was perceived as the lesser evil compared to the far-right Marine Le Pen. For the first time in twenty years, the elections resulted in a parliament where the president does not have an absolute majority - a situation that has led to unpleasant cohabitations and political paralysis in the past.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Paris will be preoccupied with domestic issues

The rise of the Eurosceptic right will also pose a challenge for France's leadership role, El Mundo fears:

“These parliamentary elections constitute a veritable earthquake in French politics. They brought Marine Le Pen's far-right party a record number of seats, making it the third largest group in the Assembly. ... Paris is expected to provide leadership in an EU more shaken than ever by challenges like that posed by Russia. Yesterday's result won't make that task any easier.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Tone-setter has been debeaked

Instability in France could have repercussions for the EU too, fears the Aargauer Zeitung:

“Less than two months ago, voters had confirmed Macron as head of state by a comfortable margin. In reality, however, many were voting against Le Pen; the president was simply the beneficiary. Now the voters are giving him the tit-for-tat: let him rule in the Elysée Palace - but under strong control! This is how separation of powers works à la française: the parliamentary election corrects the presidential election. ... The political instability - and perhaps even blockade - in Paris is likely to have repercussions for the EU. France, the nation that sets the tone in Europe now that the Merkel era is over, is too preoccupied with its own affairs to give any impetus to European policy.”