Left-wing rebels deprive Macron of outright parliament majority

Seven defectors, frustrated by French president’s grip on decision-making and pro-business policies, form new group.

French President Macron visits a school in Poissy
Macron's party now only has 288 MPs, one short of an absolute majority, and down from the 314 Macron had after he redrew the political landscape in 2017 [Ian Langsdon/Pool via Reuters]

Left-wing defectors from Emmanuel Macron’s governing party announced the creation of a new group in France’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday, depriving the president of an outright majority.

Seven legislators are splintering from Macron’s La Republique En March (LREM) to join the new “Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity” group, which will count 17 parliamentarians in its ranks, in a move that raises pressure for more left-wing policies.

That means Macron’s party now only has 288 members of parliament, one short of an absolute majority, and down from the 314 Macron had after he redrew the political landscape in 2017.

However, 17 is less than the 58 members of parliament suggested by media reports earlier this month, indicating that party bigwigs had managed to stem the flow.

“The pressure from the executive, the party and the group was such that we had to move the announcement forward,” one defector told Reuters News Agency. “Many eventually decided not to take the plunge.”

Macron’s party, formed by the former banker to propel him to the presidency in 2017, had already suffered a string of defections by legislators frustrated by his tight grip on decision-making and his pro-business policies.

Macron can still count on the support of a smaller alliance partner, the centrist MoDem. However, the arithmetic may now give MoDem more leverage over policymaking in the final two years of Macron’s mandate.

His reform drive has been stalled by the coronavirus pandemic, just as he was seeking to regain momentum after weeks of pension reform and “yellow vest” protests.

The defectors do not consider themselves as opposition, but will push the government to adopt more workers – and environment-friendly reforms to prevent voters from switching to the far right, they said.

“If we don’t show results quickly, the risk is that the French choose the worst in 2022, that’s what we want to avoid at all cost,” Aurelien Tache, one defector, said. 

Source: Reuters