French voters have opted for a broad leftist coalition in recent legislative elections, resulting in the most seats in parliament but no outright majority. This leaves France in an unprecedented situation, preventing the far right from gaining power but also creating uncertainty in governance.

Macron’s Alliance Falls Short

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance secured second place, while the far right increased its representation significantly in the National Assembly. With no party securing a clear majority, France faces a complex political landscape.

Absence of a Clear Prime Minister Candidate

No potential prime minister has emerged, with Macron planning to await further developments and attend a NATO summit in Washington. The newly elected legislators are set to commence their parliamentary duties on Monday, with the first session beginning on July 18.

Hung Parliament and Legislative Challenges

The elections have resulted in three major political blocs, none of which holds the required 289 seats out of 577 for a majority. The National Assembly, the primary legislative body in France, must now navigate law-making without a dominant party, a scenario unprecedented in modern French politics. This situation necessitates cross-party consensus on government positions and legislation, a challenging task given France’s political divisions.

Implications for Macron’s Policies

Macron’s centrist allies may struggle to implement their pro-business agenda, including unemployment benefit reforms, and could face difficulties passing budgets. The need for broader political agreements might impede policy progress.

Potential Alliances and Government Formation

Macron might consider forming a coalition with the moderate left, though such negotiations would be complex due to the lack of precedent in French politics. A fragile, informal alliance could be formed with the Socialists and Greens, though Macron has ruled out collaboration with the hard-left France Unbowed party. Recently, his government suspended a decree reducing unemployment benefits, seen as a conciliatory gesture towards the left.

If coalition talks fail, Macron could appoint a non-partisan expert government to manage day-to-day affairs, but this too would require parliamentary approval.

Divisions within the Left

The leftist bloc faces internal divisions, particularly after France Unbowed’s controversial stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Accusations of antisemitism have caused friction with more moderate leftists, though these allegations are strongly denied by France Unbowed leaders.

Despite these divisions, leftist parties united under the New Popular Front for the elections, promising significant economic reforms that have caused concern in financial markets.

Interim Government Considerations

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced his resignation but expressed willingness to remain during the Paris Olympics and beyond if necessary. An interim government might be established to manage current affairs while political negotiations continue. Macron’s office has indicated he will await the new National Assembly’s organization before making decisions on the new government.

Macron’s Future

Macron’s presidency, which runs until 2027, remains secure despite the election results. However, his weakened position limits his ability to implement domestic policies. Macron retains significant powers over foreign policy, European affairs, defense, and international treaties. The new prime minister might not challenge Macron’s authority in these areas, focusing instead on domestic issues.

The prime minister, accountable to parliament, leads the government and introduces bills, navigating a complex political environment in the wake of these historic elections.