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'Arrogant' Macron must compromise to win support, French opposition parties say

| Updated: June 23, 2022 19:01:33


French President Emmanuel Macron speaking to soldiers of the NATO Response Force as part of Mission AIGLE, upon his arrival at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near Constanta in Romania on June 14 this year –Reuters file photo French President Emmanuel Macron speaking to soldiers of the NATO Response Force as part of Mission AIGLE, upon his arrival at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near Constanta in Romania on June 14 this year –Reuters file photo

France's opposition parties said on Tuesday that an "arrogant" Emmanuel Macron will have to change tack and listen to them to win their support on a case-by-case basis after losing control of parliament.

His centrist alliance won the most seats in Sunday's legislative vote, but fell well short of the absolute majority he needed to rule with a free hand during his second term after a first mandate known for its top-down approach, reports Reuters.

Opposition leaders, whom Macron will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, made clear any support would come at a cost, opening the prospect of messy talks on every policy proposal.

"He's the one who's been arrogant and now he calls for help," the leader of the conservative Les Republicains, Christian Jacob, told France Inter radio.

"We campaigned in the opposition ... and will remain in the opposition," he later told reporters after meeting Macron, adding that he told the president that clinching a coalition pact would be considered as a "treason" by Les Republicains voters.

But with his party, whose economic platform is largely compatible with Macron's, well placed to be kingmaker, Jacob opened the door to case-by-case deals, saying that it was up to Macron to make a step in their direction and take their suggestions on board.

Les Republicains would be "responsible" and would not "block the institutions", he said.

The pro-European president who wants to deepen EU integration, push the retirement age up, and promote nuclear energy, wants this week's talks with the opposition "to identify possible constructive solutions", the Elysee palace presidential office said in a statement.

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Sunday's elections delivered a fragmented parliament, in which the far right has its biggest contingent ever in France and is the single-biggest opposition party, while a broad left-wing alliance altogether won the second-largest number of seats.

The Socialists' Olivier Faure also said his party could back some policy proposals - such as a substantial increase of the minimum wage.

"We have had a so-called Jupiterian period when the president decided alone and where he was not accountable to anyone," Faure told reporters.

"From now on, because he does not have a majority, he is forced into accepting a bigger role for parliament ... and it's rather healthy that he be accountable, negotiates, seeks points of agreement."

A quick solution looks unlikely, not the least because Macron will be distracted from Thursday by a week of international meetings abroad, including an EU summit and G7 and NATO summits.

"The result of the legislative elections should make him (Macron) think," the far-right's Marine Le Pen said.

"He cannot continue the policy he has led because it did not obtain an absolute majority in the legislative elections," she said, adding: "as the first opposition group, we must be heard".

There are many more outstanding questions, including whether Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will stay in the job and if the left-wing Nupes alliance - which showed its first cracks as early on Monday - will stay united.

The Elysee palace said Borne had handed in her resignation but that Macron had rejected it so the government could keep working. But the wording of the statement hinted it could a temporary reprieve.

"The prime minister submitted her resignation to the president of the republic who refused it so that the government could remain on the task and act these days," it said.

All that considered, Manuel Bompard, from the France Insoumise hard-left party, told BFM TV that "sooner or later" there would be a snap election: "There is no majority for Elisabeth Borne, there is no majority for the president of the republic."

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