French president Emmanuel Macron last night broke his silence about the parliamentary crisis enveloping his administration, suggesting opposition groups are willing to work with him but admitting he cannot ‘ignore the political gridlock and divisions in our country’.
The head of state addressed the nation on live TV last night – three days after losing his majority in the National Assembly.
Expressing his frustration about the result of Sunday’s parliamentary election – when his Together coalition was 44 seats under the necessary 289 figure for a majority – Macron said: ‘Unfortunately not everyone went out to vote, and now I can’t ignore the political gridlock and divisions in our country.
‘The fractures are very clear – in our inner city areas, and in rural areas. We have 577 seats in our parliament and now we must make a choice about how we are going to form a majority.
‘I see the country is asking for change, because it’s my role as the person in charge of institutions, I’m the person who can look for this compromise in the National Assembly.’
He went on to say that opposition party leaders were open to ‘advancing on major topics’ such as cost of living, the creation of jobs, energy, climate change and public health, but he ruled out any attempt to create a ‘government of national unity’.
The President also talked of his ‘ambitious project’ for the country, which he said would seek to strengthen France’s industry, agriculture and security, but insisted this would not be financed by higher taxes or national debt.
Rather, he declared that he would consolidate the nation’s wealth by creating more jobs and fostering innovation.
Macron concluded his speech by telling the nation: ‘I have faith because we’ve overcome so many crises and difficulties together in recent years, and it is together that we will find the path to a collective success.
‘Thank you – long live the Republic, long live France.’
France’s centrist leader has spent the last two days talking to opposition chiefs, including far-right National Rally’s Marine Le Pen, and Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the left-wing Nupes (New Ecological and Social Popular Union) alliance.
‘We have seen that everybody wants to make sure that everything is not blocked,’ said Macron.
‘The majority of leaders have spoken about the fact that people do not think the country is ready of a National Unity government.’
Instead, Macron said options included coalition building, possibly over every piece of proposed legislation in a ‘bill-by-bill case’, but he called on the opposition parties to ‘leave in-fighting behind’ and move ‘beyond politics’.
Measures that the President hopes to get through include raising the retirement age in France from 62 to 65, but this is likely to be blocked by the opposition.
‘We need a large and clear majority,’ he said. ‘I was convinced from the start that we need more compromise – to go beyond quarrels and division. Clarity is essential.
‘You want us to be responsible credible and well financed. We need to take some urgent decisions for the future of the country and to make sure that your everybody’s lives can be lived without having to worry about more debt and more stress.’
If the parliamentary crisis deepens further then Macron, who came to power in 2017 and who is currently in his second term of office, may have to call another snap parliamentary election.