PARIS: French opposition leaders told beleaguered President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday that they would not make life easy for him as he sought a way to avoid political paralysis after this weekend’s election setback in parliament. Macron should fire his prime minister, some opponents said, after he earlier refused to accept her resignation, review his reform plans and drop his top-down approach to power. Macron needs to find support from opponents, after disaffected voters angry over inflation and his perceived indifference delivered a hung parliament on Sunday.
“I told the president that it was out of the question to enter into a coalition deal, that would be a betrayal of our voters,” Christian Jacob, leader of the conservative Les Republicains, said after meeting Macron, whom he had earlier described as “arrogant”. Les Republicains provide the most obvious place for Macron to find support. The conservatives’ economic platform is largely compatible with Macron’s. However, the conservatives, whose past presidents include Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, have so far ruled out a formal coalition pact. Even so, Jacob said his party would be “responsible”, seemingly opening the door to potentially messy bill-by-bill negotiations.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, a hard-left veteran who united the left in an alliance that won the second-biggest number of MPs, told reporters that PM Elisabeth Borne had to go. “We’re just wasting our time,” he said bluntly, in a sign of how combative his camp plans to be. The Elysee said Borne had tendered her resignation but Macron had refused so that the government could keep working. Nonetheless, the wording of the Elysee statement hinted it could be only a temporary reprieve.
Marine Le Pen, whose far-right National Rally now has 89 MPs, from eight in the previous legislature, stressed that Macron must hear what her party has to say and “cannot continue the policy he has led (so far)”. Olivier Faure, leader of the Parti Socialiste, which joined the left-wing Nupes bloc ahead of the election, said his party could back some policy proposals – but only if Macron took on board their ideas.