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French president Emmanuel Macron today broke his silence about the parliamentary crisis enveloping his administration, suggesting opposition groups are willing to work with him but admitting he cannot ‘ignore the political gridlock and divisions in our country’.
The head of state addressed the nation on live TV this evening – three days after losing his majority in the National Assembly.
Expressing his frustration about the result of Sunday’s parliamentary election – when his Together coalition was 44 seats under the necessary 289 figure for a majority – Mr Macron said: ‘Unfortunately not everyone went out to vote, and now I can’t ignore the political gridlock and divisions in our country.
‘The fractures are very clear – in our inner city areas, and in rural areas. We have 577 seats in our parliament and now we must make a choice about how we are going to form a majority.
‘We have to learn how to legislate differently – that’s what you have asked for. We don’t have to stay in a situation of inertia.
‘I see the country is asking for change, because it’s my role as the person in charge of institutions, I’m the person who can look for this compromise in the National Assembly.’
He went on to say that opposition party leaders were open to ‘advancing on major topics’ such as cost of living, the creation of jobs, energy, climate change and public health, but did not provide specifics.
The President also talked of his ‘ambitious project’ for the country, which he said would seek to strengthen France’s industry, agriculture and security, but insisted this would not be financed by higher taxes or national debt.
Rather, he declared that he would consolidate the nation’s wealth by creating more jobs and fostering innovation.
Macron concluded his speech by telling the nation: ‘I have faith because we’ve overcome so many crises and difficulties together in recent years, and it is together that we will find the path to a collective success.
‘Thank you – long live the Republic, long live France.’
French President Emmanuel Macron speaking during televised address on June 22, 2022, in Paris
Macron’s national address is the first public statement he has given since losing his parliamentary majority
A family watch French President Emmanuel Macron giving a national televised address Wednesday, June 22, 2022 in Ciboure, southwestern France
Macron’s centrist alliance took a pounding in the latest election, losing 105 seats from 2017. The centre-right Republicans also lost seats, while Le Pen’s National Rally gained a huge 81 seats. In 2017, Melenchon only led his own party, winning 17 seats, but this team he gathered together a left-wing alliance which won 131 seats, making them the largest opposition group
He has spent the last two days talking to party leaders, including far-right National Rally’s Marine Le Pen, and Nupes’s Jean-Luc Melenchon.
‘We have seen that everybody wants to make sure that everything is not blocked,’ said Mr Macron.
‘The majority of leaders have spoken about the fact that people do not think the country is ready of a National Unity government.’
Instead, Mr Macron said options included coalition building, possibly over every piece of proposed legislation in a ‘bill-by-bill case’.
Measures that the President hopes to get through include raising the retirement age in France from 62 to 65, but this is likely to be blocked by the opposition.
‘We need a large and clear majority,’ he said. ‘I was convinced from the start that we need more compromise – to go beyond quarrels and division. Clarity is essential.
‘You want us to be responsible credible and well financed. We need to take some urgent decisions for the future of the country and to make sure that your everybody’s lives can be lived without having to worry about more debt and more stress.’
If the parliamentary crisis deepens further then Mr Macron, who came to power in 2017 and who is currently in his second term of office, may have to call another snap parliamentary election.
The electorate turned against Macron’s ‘arrogance’, a government source said, with Le Pen’s National Rally growing from eight to 89 seats, and the Nupes alliance winning 131 seats to become the main opposition force.
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, meets French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) leader and Member of Parliament Marine Le Pen at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Macron (right, with French Communist leader Fabien Roussel left) hosted political party chiefs in a bid to break the impasse created by the failure of his coalition to win a majority in parliamentary elections
French centrist party MoDem (Mouvement Democrate) leader Francois Bayrou (L) and La Republique En Marche (LREM) ruling party leader Stanislas Guerini (R) also met with Macron at the Elysee palace
President Emmanuel Macron (pictured today) will address France tonight over the crisis created by his failure to retain a parliamentary majority, with no solution in sight to an impasse that jeapardises his reform plans
Macron’s at-risk manifesto pledges
Cost of living: Remove all tax on inheritance valued less than €150,000, abolish TV licence fee
Immigration: Reform the asylum system to make it more efficient, long-stay permit is only given to people who pass a French language exam and are professionally successful
Europe: Strengthen the EU and its armies, increase the continent’s energy autonomy, fill the gap left by Angela Merkel as de facto EU leader
Pensions: Raise the pension age from 62 to 65 to keep the pension system afloat. Minimum pensions raised to €1,100 a month
Climate: Subsidies for environmental home improvements, access to affordable electric vehicles, building more nuclear reactors
Macron’s centrist alliance won the most seats – 245 – but fell 44 seats short of a straight majority.
Over the past two days he has hosted rare talks at the Elysee Palace with opposition leaders to find a way out of the crisis.
He met the head of the far-right National Rally (RN) Marine Le Pen on Tuesday, while the head of the left-wing NUPES alliance, hard-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, sent MP Adrien Quatennens, 32, to represent him in talks on Wednesday in a clear snub to the president.
The meetings so far appear to have made little headway, and Macron has also rejected an offer from under-fire PM Elisabeth Borne to resign.
‘The unfindable compromise? Emmanuel Macron is trying to regain the initiative but no consensus has been found,’ said the right-wing Le Figaro daily.
Having delivered his address to the public tonight, the President is now due to attend an EU summit on Thursday and Friday, then the G7 summit in Germany from Sunday and then the NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday.
Analysts have said the most viable solution would be a deal between Macron’s centrist alliance and the right-wing Republicans (LR), a party on the decline but which still won 61 seats.
But after talks with Macron on Tuesday, LR leader Christian Jacob ruled out any kind of ‘pact’ with Macron’s Together alliance.
Former prime minister Edouard Philippe, whose Horizons party is part of Macron’s alliance, told BFM television late Tuesday that a ‘grand coalition’ should now be formed.
‘We need to hear what the voters have said and take them seriously,’ he said.
Communist party chief Fabien Roussel, who is part of the NUPES alliance and held talks with Macron on Tuesday, said after the meeting that the president had evoked a ‘government of national unity’ as a way out of the impasse.
French prime minister Elisabeth Borne , center right, surrounded by ministers, chairs a cabinet meeting at the Matignon Hotel in Paris, France, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Borne formally offered her resignation Tuesday, in line with the tradition after parliamentary elections. Macron immediately rejected the offer and maintained the current government
Speaking as she introduced new MPs at parliament on Wednesday, Le Pen said the president had floated the same idea with her.
Olivier Veran, the minister in charge of relations with parliament, told BFM on Wednesday that ‘all options’ were on the table. But he ruled out working with Le Pen’s RN or Melenchon’s hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) to find a majority.
This could be achieved, he said, either through an alliance or on a ‘bill by bill’ basis, with the government finding a majority thanks to certain MPs on the right or left, depending on the legislation.
Julien Bayou, the leader of the Green EELV party that is part of NUPES, said after his talks with Macron on Wednesday that his party would be in opposition. But it would vote ‘according to the national interest’ and would put forward its own legislation on climate change.
Melenchon has threatened to file a motion of no-confidence against Borne next month, but other opposition leaders have shown less appetite for such action.
Borne, an experienced technocrat with little experience of frontline campaign politics and in office for just over month, has been widely criticised for her performance in the election.
While Macron has rejected her offer to resign, her future remains in question.