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France faces tough coalition talks after leftist takeover

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday (8) asked his prime minister to stay in office for now, as he awaits what will be difficult negotiations to form a new government after a surprise leftist victory in elections that resulted in a suspended parliament.

The left-wing New Popular Front (NFP), which includes the far left, emerged as the dominant force in the National Assembly after Sunday’s (7) election, thwarting Marine Le Pen’s attempt to bring the far right to power.

However, with no group securing a working majority, the result heralded a period of political volatility ahead of the Paris Olympics and heightened uncertainty among investors over who would govern the euro zone’s second-largest economy.

“It’s not going to be simple, no, it’s not going to be easy and no, it’s not going to be comfortable,” Green Party leader Marine Tondelier told France Inter radio. “It’s going to take a little bit of time.”

The range of possibilities includes the formation of a minority government by the NFP or the formation of a top-heavy coalition of parties with almost no common ground.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, a centrist and close ally of Macron, offered his resignation, but the head of state rejected it.

“The president has asked Gabriel Attal to remain as prime minister for the time being in order to ensure the country’s stability,” Macron’s office said in a statement.

A fragmented Parliament will make it harder to pass a domestic agenda and will likely weaken France’s role in the European Union.

The left won 182 seats, Macron’s centrist alliance 168 and Le Pen and her allies’ National Rally (RN) 143, according to Interior Ministry figures cited by Le Monde. Other media outlets gave slightly different counts, and the final numbers will depend in part on whether individual lawmakers join different groups.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was seen entering the Elysee presidential palace shortly after Attal, suggesting the president was gauging the views of his allies on what to do next.

Leaders of the NFP’s constituent parties met overnight and are due to meet again on Monday to discuss who should replace Attal and what strategy the alliance should adopt, said a source in the Communist Party, one of its smaller members.

The NFP, hastily assembled for this election in an attempt to unify the left-wing vote against the far right, has no single leader and did not say before the election who its choice for prime minister would be.

Marine Tondelier, one of several NFP figures seen as possible candidates for the job, told France Inter radio that it could be someone from the far-left France Insoumise party, the Greens or the Socialists, the three biggest parties in the alliance.

But there appears to be no consensus on important issues, such as the need for the bloc to seek support from other forces, such as Macron’s centrists.

Olivier Faure, the Socialist leader, told France Info radio he expected the parties to agree on a plan this week, but dodged a question about whether the NFP was prepared to negotiate a deal with Macron’s centrist camp.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of France Insoumise, one of the most divisive figures in French politics, explicitly ruled out any deal with the centrists on Sunday, and on Monday his ally Manuel Bompard appeared intransigent.

“The president needs to appoint as prime minister someone from the New Popular Front to implement the NFP program, the whole program and nothing but the program,” he told France 2 television.

However, there is little chance that any of the left bloc’s main proposals, which include raising the minimum wage, reversing Macron’s pension reform and capping prices on key products, will pass a parliamentary vote without some kind of deal with lawmakers outside the bloc.

Source: CNN Brasil

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