Macron lost his absolute majority, what now?
Yesterday the 19th of June, French voters were called to the polls to elect their Members of Parliament, 577 in total. Despite the French regime being undoubtedly very presidential, this election was crucial for Macron and his ability to pass his laws. The French did not want to give him that opportunity for his second mandate. Analysis.
Climate change enthusiast and former OECD Economics Consultant on Renewables within the IPAC. Holds a Master in Economics and Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris.
Table of contents
A predictable outcome
10 days ago, we published an article called "Without an absolute majority, a greener Macron?" where we were discussing the back then-emerging probability that the recently re-elected President Macron to not obtain the 289 seats he needed to rule the country without any troubles.
Back in 2017, Macron's group was composed of 309 MPs, 20 more than the absolute majority. They lost a couple of MPs during the hard journey that was the first mandate but was always able to pass their laws without having to compromise: times are now way different.
Of the 309 MPs, 245 seats are kept: why so few?
The main points to be kept in mind after this election are:
- The French did not want to grant Macron all the powers like in 2017 so he will have to be less arrogant and amend his projects
- When united under the same banner, the Left is stronger. Melenchon will most likely not be Prime Minister, but the Left holds 135 seats, 76 more than in 2017.
- The Far Right, represented by Marine Le Pen and her Mouvement 'Rassemblement National' multiplied their seats by 11, confirming the very good trend in which it is engaged for the past 5 to 10 years.
- So far, none of the groups from the "circle of reason" (i.e. non extremists) is willing to negotiate in order to form a coalition with the President's party: party chairman of the Right-Wing party 'Les Republicains' said yesterday "We've campaigned in opposition, we are in opposition, we'll stay in opposition."
This raises a number of issues for the President, his Government, and his new weakened majority about what are the next steps, and how to govern this ungovernable situation that France has never faced before?
Out of the 15 Ministers that were running, two were defeated: they will have to resign as per the rule decided by Macron himself and common within French politics.
The new Prime Minister and former Minister of Ecology Elisabeth Borne won by a hair (53.2%) and is obviously weakened, since in France as in many European countries, the Prime Minister is the acting Majority Leader. She may have her fate sealed on the 5th of July when she will pronounce her 'General Policy Speech', followed by a trust vote by the MPs, where she can be overturned and almost forced to resign.
In the meantime, Macron has only a few options:
- The most simplistic and cynical would be to dissolve the Assembly in a few weeks, seeking a majority after having shown to moderate electors his difficulty to rule with 42% of the seats. Nevertheless, it has its risks.
- He can also redesign his Government by taking into account these results, thus maybe expanding his majority, but this is quite unlikely.
- Another solution is quite straightforward: Macron has no absolute majority, he needs to find either a stable or a 'text-based majority'. The stable one would mean "stealing" MPs up to 44 to reach 289. It seems unlikely since as explained above no party wants to ally with him: 20 various lefts and 4 various centers, even if all of them join, won't be enough. Then he might opt for a 'text-based majority', way more unpredictable and dangerous: each time a law project is presented by the Government, they will have to seek these 44 votes that are missing (assuming the 245 MPs of Ensemble vote as a single man/woman). This might be the opportunity for NUPES to make its case and drive Macron's second term more to the left and a thus 'greener mandate' as we wrote on June 10th.
Should the last option be the case and Macron to look to his left, this will have a significant impact on the French net-zero strategy, and more specifically its investments in nuclear and renewables: do we follow the same strategy, or not?
Signs given by Macron and his unstable government in the incoming days will be key.
Sources: French Interior Ministry