Emmanuel Macron and his allies have proposed a government of national unity to overcome the parliamentary deadlock after Sunday’s inconclusive elections, but they face stiff resistance even from moderate politicians who had been seen as most likely to accept.
The French president is due to address the nation at 8pm local time on Wednesday, the Elysée Palace announced.
“What’s on the table is a way of finding a majority so that we can move forward to reform and transform our country,” Olivier Véran, minister in charge of relations with the parliament, said on Wednesday.
Macron’s government, which fell short of a majority in the National Assembly in Sunday’s elections, said it was offering “all options” including a broad coalition because “we’re saying the situation is serious and we must be able to unite our forces and find areas of consensus”, Véran told BFMTV.
Without the support of some of his political opponents, including MPs from the conservative Les Républicains or the Socialist party, Macron will struggle to push through any legislation to pursue his economic reforms or tackle crises in France’s health and education systems.
Fabien Roussel, the Communist leader whose party has joined a Red-Green alliance dominated by the far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said Macron had suggested a government of national unity when he met him at the Elysée Palace on Tuesday. Marine Le Pen, when asked whether Macron had made the same proposal to her as leader of the far-right Rassemblement National, said: “Yes.”
Edouard Philippe, Le Havre mayor and former Macron prime minister who joined forces with the president in the legislative election campaign, described the idea as a “grand coalition”, while François Bayrou, another Macron ally who heads the centrist Modem party, said he had told the president that it was important to go as far as possible in achieving “national unity”.
Macron’s problem is that the two biggest opposition blocs in the newly elected National Assembly are Mélenchon’s New Ecological and Social People’s Union (Nupes), and Le Pen’s RN — groups dominated by hard-left and hard-right nationalist politicians that the liberal president will find it difficult or impossible to work with.
Véran has already said the minority government does not see itself co-operating with Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (France Unbowed, the largest component of Nupes) or with the RN on the grounds that they do not have republican values. “Neither extreme left, nor extreme right,” he said.
That leaves the conservative LR and the more moderate parties in the Nupes, including the Socialists and greens, but they have all so far proved reluctant to consider striking a deal with Macron except for case-by-case approvals of particular laws.
LR president Christian Jacob said he did not want to block the country’s institutions but his MPs did not want a formal coalition pact with Macron.
“It’s difficult for Macron for obvious reasons to find people to work with in the RN and in most of the Nupes coalition,” said Martin Quencez, deputy director at the Paris office of the German Marshall Fund, a think-tank. “In many cases they got elected on an anti-Macron platform.” But he added: “This is not the end of the story, this is still very much in flux.”