Macron calls for ‘governing pact’ in the French parliament

President Emmanuel Macron broke his silence for the first time since Sunday’s snap elections to call for a broad “governing pact” to end the political impasse of a badly fractured French parliament.

In an open letter to the public on Wednesday, Macron claimed that “no one won” the vote since no party or alliance had come even close to an outright majority.

Without using the word “coalition”, the president urged political parties to “engage in sincere and loyal dialogue to build a solid majority, which has to be pluralistic, for the country.”

The missive infuriated the leftwing Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) that came in first with 180 seats, ahead of Macron’s Ensemble alliance on 150.

Since Tuesday, the NFP has accused Macron of a “democratic hold-up” for dragging his feet and not offering them the chance to form a government.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon slammed Macron: “It is the return of the royal veto over universal suffrage! That is enough. He must bow down and call on the NFP. That is simply democracy.”

The letter implies that Macron wants at all costs to avoid a power sharing government known as a “cohabitation” with the NFP, which has a heavy tax-and-spend economic programme totally at odds with the president’s business-friendly brand of supply side policies.

Hastily formed after Macron’s called the snap election last month, the NFP is a disparate grouping of Mélenchon’s far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), a small group of Communists, and the more moderate Socialists and Greens.

The alliance wants to repeal Macron’s unpopular pension reform that raised the retirement age to 64, increase the minimum wage, and re-establish a wealth tax.

“The program of the NFP would be fatal for the French economy,” wrote Patrick Martin, the head of business lobby Medef, in an op-ed in Les Echos newspaper.

While Macron ignores the left, some in Macron’s Ensemble have been arguing instead for a pact with the conservative Les Républicains, who hold around 45 seats, a manoeuvre that has sparked divisions within the president’s camp.

The constitution grants the president the power to choose the prime minister, but does not spell out how, nor set a timetable. But presidents customarily call on the party with the most MPs to form a government.

Macron has used his presidential prerogative to maintain the current government, keeping Prime Minister Gabriel Attal in place as negotiations among the parties play out.

He implied that both the far right and the far left should be excluded from a governing majority and urged other political parties to set some “main principles”, based around “clear and shared republican values”, to come up with a “pragmatic project” to address voters’ priorities.

“The nature of these elections, marked by a clear demand for change and power sharing, requires [mainstream parties] to build a large force to govern together,” he wrote.

“What the French chose at the ballot box — the republican front — political parties must implement through their actions.”

In his letter, Macron argued that the true message of the election was that when the French public resoundingly rejected the idea of a government led by Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National.

Instead they voted tactically, often for candidates and parties they disliked, to build the so-called front républican to beat back the far right.

As a result, Macron argued that politicians needed to set aside their difference to compromise on governing out of respect for voters who elected them, despite not agreeing with their programmes.

Indeed, the RN which came first in the first round on June 30, only managed to become third-largest party in the new assembly, with 143 MPs.

But the far right party did win 10mn votes, far more than the left’s 7mn or Ensemble’s 6.3mn.

Macron’s letter was published as he travelled to Washington for a two-day Nato summit.

“As president of the Republic, I am both the protector of the national interest, guarantor of the institutions, and the one who must respect your choice,” he wrote.

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