French president Emmanuel Macron is holding talks with opposition parties after failing to win a parliamentary majority over the weekend.
In a big blow for the newly re-elected president, his centrist Ensemble group fell 43 seats short of the 289 needed to govern without external support.
With 105 fewer seats than his movement won in the 2017 National Assembly election, Mr Macron must now either attempt to form a coalition government or else lead a minority government, which will make passing new bills difficult.
Mr Macron will hold talks with Oliver Faure, the leader of the Socialist Party, Christian Jacob, the president of Les Republicains, and Marine Le Pen, the head of the far-right National Rally, at the Elysee presidential palace on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This comes after the French president rejected his prime minister Elisabeth Borne’s offer to resign, following the election setback.
Analysts believe Mr Macron could seek the support of Les Republicains, who gained 61 seats in last week’s election. The conservatives back some of the president’s policies, including raising the age of retirement.
However, Mr Jacob, the party’s president, has indicated that its politicians are “near unanimous” in wanting to remain in opposition. But several of his colleagues disagree, arguing that they should act as kingmakers.
Unlike other party chiefs, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the Insoumise leader who recently formed the Nupes alliance of leftist and Green parties, will not be attending talks with the French president.
The coalition won 131 seats, making it the second most powerful group in the 577-member chamber, ahead of Ms Le Pen’s party, which gained 89 seats, a dramatic rise from the eight it secured back in 2017.
“It is a totally unexpected situation, absolutely unheard of, the rout of the presidential party is total,” Mr Melenchon said on Sunday after Mr Macrons’ failure to win a majority had become apparent.
Following the vote, the Nupes group has said it will bring forward a no-confidence vote against Mr Macron’s government on 5 July.
Macron allies have conceded that Sunday’s second-round result makes things difficult for his administration. “We must think about a new way of functioning on an institutional level,” European affairs minister Clement Beaune said.
Government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire echoed this message, telling France Inter radio: “It’s going to be complicated.”
“We’re going to have to be creative,” she added.
Ms Gregoire indicated that a reshuffle would take place soon and that the government will present a cost-of-living bill when parliament reopens in eight days.
Mr Macron, who two months ago became the first president to be re-elected for two decades, has yet to speak publicly about the parliamentary election result.
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