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Officials count ballots in France's parliamentary elections Officials count ballots in France's parliamentary elections 

French president loses parliamentary majority

Less than two months after his re-election, President Emmanuel Macron has lost control of the French National Assembly in a political earthquake, as the country’s Bishops warn about growing social divisions.

By Stefan J. Bos

Final results from the interior ministry on Monday showed that French President Emmanuel Macron faces an uncertain political future.

His centrist Ensemble (“Together”) alliance won only 245 seats in the assembly. That is well short of the 289 needed for the outright majority Macron had enjoyed since 2017.

The prime minister he had only recently appointed, Elisabeth Borne, warned that the situation was unprecedented.

"This situation represents a risk for our country, given the risks we're facing nationally and internationally," she says. And she wants to work to “build a working majority."

The left-green alliance formed by far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon — the New Ecological and Social People's Union (Nupes) — was supported by many young urban voters.

“Total defeat”

They emerged as the leading opposition group with 131 members in the 577-seat chamber, prompting celebrations. It is the total defeat of the president's party, and there is no majority," said leftist leader Mélenchon. He told supporters: "Long live France, long live the republic."

Shouts of joy were also heard among supporters of Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National party. It received a whopping 89 seats. That is more than ten times as many as the eight it secured in the previous legislative elections, noticed Le Pen.

"Beyond the parliamentary group, we will pursue the work of bringing together the French people within a big popular movement," Le Pen says. She adds that she wants to unify all the patriots on both the right and left. A national rally to defend the country in the face of crumbling, which we see every day."

The conservative Les Républicains and its partners won 74 seats.

Social divisions

The outcome of the parliamentary elections came after the head of the French Bishops' Conference had already warned of growing social divisions following the recent re-election of President Macron.

Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims expressed concern about an increasing rupture, which he said was geographical but also separated those above from those below. He said that this is worrying for France's future.

Clergy stabbed

The Archbishop spoke after the recent stabbing of a Catholic priest and nun. Both survived, and the attack was not linked to Islamic terrorism.

Amid tensions, President Macron had promised to tackle the cost of living crisis, but his rivals have very different ideas on how to go about it.

His big-ticket proposals included reforming benefits, cutting taxes, and gradually raising the retirement age from 62 to 65. But pension age reform is likely to be hard to get through.

Questions remain about whether he can realize proposals to move toward carbon neutrality and full employment.

He recently offered a "new method" of governing with more involvement from civil society through a National Council for Refoundation comprised of local people to make France more democratic.

But with a divided Parliament, Macron faces a rocky road ahead.

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20 June 2022, 17:09