Macron delays mandate for New Popular Front

Emmanuel Macron is avoiding acknowledging the defeat of his liberal camp in the general election, delaying the mandate for the New Popular Front to form a government

July 08, 2024 by Ana Vračar
Source: Jean-Luc Mélenchon/X

The results of the general election in France are in: the left-progressive alliance New Popular Front (NFP) will be the largest parliamentary group with 182 seats, followed by 168 seats held by Emmanuel Macron’s liberal coalition, and 143 seats by the far-right National Rally, which includes supporters from the Gaullist party Republicans. However, none of the three groups secured an absolute majority of 289 seats, leading to uncertainty about the next steps.

While most have no doubt that the NFP, which ran on a platform of strengthening public services and addressing the cost of living crisis, should be given the chance to form a government, others are not as convinced. One of the unconvinced is President Emmanuel Macron himself, who asked Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to “stay for a while longer” when he offered his resignation on Monday, in order to “ensure the stability of the country.”

The president’s attempt to avoid upholding the election results is not surprising. On election night, liberal candidates had already implied that the left would face challenges in having its victory recognized. During the second round of elections, Macron tried to equate the left and the extreme right, vilifying in particular candidates from France Unbowed, which, incidentally, won the most seats within the NFP.

Macron’s decision to ask Attal to hold the line has led to criticism, describing the president as an orchestrator and “actor of instability.”

“Emmanuel Macron wants Gabriel Attal to stay on as prime minister ‘to ensure the stability of the country.’ It’s a strange democratic concept to act as if the election didn’t produce a clear result: Mr. Attal is in the minority. True stability would mean letting the majority, i.e., the NFP, govern,” said Éric Coquerel, a representative of France Unbowed, on Monday.

Social movements that rallied behind the NFP to prevent the continuation of neoliberal policies pushed by Macron and stop the far-right from seizing power have also condemned the president’s reluctance to honor the election results. The General Confederation of Labor (CGT) stated that the election results show voters have severely punished Macron. “He was completely irresponsible in trying to equate the far right with the left, thereby contributing to the legitimization of the National Rally and its ideology,” the CGT wrote.

The organization called on the president to respect the election results and to “call for the formation of a new government based on the program of the New Popular Front, which came out on top.”

The coming days will be unusually complicated in the context of French parliamentary politics. With the three major groups close in size, any government formation will be exposed to continuous pressures and uncertainty. The left, however, has repeatedly assured that it is ready to take on the responsibility given to them by voters. In the coming week, the NFP promised to announce a prime minister candidate behind whom the whole coalition will rally.