Election defeat slows Macron’s traction in the EU

So far, the Macron camp had 350 seats in parliament, on Sunday his alliance ensemble was only able to secure 245 seats: This is not just a major setback for the French president. Because he has thus lost the absolute majority, Macron is facing difficult times in domestic politics. It was a “fundamental weakening” for Macron, said Eisl, an expert at the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris, in an interview with ORF.at.

However, the domestic political situation could certainly rub off on the whole of Europe: Paris and Berlin set the tone in the EU and France in particular has recently been of particular importance, as the French are the most important military power in the Union and thus a key factor in the Ukraine war .

Course possibly slowed down by the situation in Parliament

Macron has not only been considered a great reformer at home and wanted to put his stamp on the EU, not least during the course of the Council Presidency, which ends in July. But his pro-European course could now be slowed down significantly. Eisl now expects a “more careful handling” of some issues if the President is dependent on the majority in Parliament. Macron’s urge for reforms therefore depends on “the extent to which he is being held back by domestic politics”.

France is threatened with political chaos

The day after the parliamentary elections in France, there is a hangover. President Emmanuel Macron has lost his absolute majority, while the left and the extreme right have made strong gains. The country, in which the president otherwise has almost unlimited power, seems ungovernable. The difficult search for a majority begins.

For some projects, Macron needs “national security”, according to Eisl, which could become a challenge given the new conditions. Parliament could also thwart his plans when it comes to the implementation of EU directives in France. So the next period will be important for the entire EU – because Macron’s choice of partner could have repercussions across national borders.

Worlds between Macron camp and other alliances

One thing is clear: it doesn’t matter whether it’s Jean-Luc Melenchon’s left-wing alliance NUPES or Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National – on many issues there are worlds between Macron and the big winners of this year’s parliamentary elections. And of course this also continues at EU level. What’s more, with Melenchon’s alliance there is no unified line on EU alignment even within the bloc.

APA/AFP/Bertrand Guay

Melenchon made big gains in the parliamentary elections

Because while the head of the movement sees the EU as an opponent and even spoke of “disobedience” especially with regard to the Union’s strict debt rules, individual parties see it very differently – which could also become a factor for Macron. Because the Greens and Socialists who joined Melenchon’s alliance were actually considered pro-European up to now.

Eisl says that Macron could “possibly get a narrow majority” with the seats of these two parties – but that would also mean that the Greens and Socialists would have to break with Melenchon’s alliance. In any case, this would only result in a “very fragile” majority in parliament, far removed from the previous strength of the Macron camp.

Republicans as possible kingmakers

According to Eisl, the “politically simplest option” for Macron would be to work with the conservative Republicans – who, last but not least, are pro-European. Either actual cooperation in the form of a classic coalition in this country or informal cooperation is conceivable – the Macron camp would have a minority government, the Republicans would not vote in a possible motion of no confidence and would thus support the government.

ZIB correspondent Leonie Heitz from Paris

Macron needs government partners for the coming years and for his political projects. How difficult will it be for him to find them? Leonie Heitz reports.

Another scenario that Eisl mentions would be “political standstill”. In this case, Macron would not have a majority, but there would also be no “constructive” majority from the other parties: a situation in which the other parties could not only overthrow Macron, but also agree on legislative proposals. In the end, only a new election could bring about changes, says the expert. Even a situation like that in Israel, where new elections were held several times in relatively short succession, cannot be ruled out.

Marine Le Pen

APA/AFP/Denis Charlet

Marine Le Pen’s party also recorded a huge increase in votes

The “politically most logical” thing, however, is an agreement with the Republicans. They undoubtedly have the potential to become kingmakers – but they are still holding back, at least for the moment, and have announced that they will go into the opposition. After Macron had “brought some Republicans on board”, there may be a “fear” of becoming part of Macron’s alliance, according to Eisl. Macron now wants to talk to the leaders of the most important parties individually about new majorities from Tuesday.

Germany waiting but optimistic

In addition to the search for a majority in Parliament, it also remains to be seen how the other member states will react to developments in France. Perhaps the most important statement came from Germany on Monday: It was said from Berlin that Macron’s relationship with Chancellor Olaf Scholz was “close, trusting and good”, both personally and in terms of content. “It will continue to be so.”

When asked about Macron’s possible limited political room for manoeuvre, the German government spokesman said that it would first have to be seen how exactly the cooperation between Parliament and the President would work. For the time being, the rest of Europe will probably take a very close look at which path Macron is taking – and how the domestic political situation will change the president’s pace.

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