Election projections suggest that the French president’s coalition may fail to retain absolute majority control of the National Assembly.
President Emmanuel Macron’s parliamentary alliance was virtually tied with a left-wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon following Sunday’s first round of voting, and according to some projections may fail to win enough seats in the runoff to gain the majority needed to push through his legislative initiatives.
The centrist Ensemble alliance, backing Macron, barely beat the left bloc with 25.75 to 25.66 percent of the popular votes, according to the interior ministry’s data. The National Rally party led by populist Marine Le Pen, whom Macron defeated in April’s presidential election, won 18.68% of Sunday’s votes.
Ensemble is projected by various pollsters to win between 225 and 310 seats in the parliament in the run off on June 19, according to the state-owned Agence-France Press and France 24.
The alliance will need to secure 289 seats for an outright majority in the 577-seat National Assembly. Without a majority, Macron may be hard pressed to get lawmakers to pass his agenda, including pension reforms that he has said are needed to shore up public finances.
The newly formed NUPES left-wing alliance is projected to win 150 to 220 National Assembly seats, while National Rally reportedly figures to take as many as 45 seats. NUPES, headed by leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, opposes Macron’s plan to reform France’s pension system, instead calling for even more public spending by cutting the national retirement age to 60 from 62.
Macron has called for increasing the age at which citizens can qualify for full pensions to 65 to help keep the retirement system financially viable. Without a parliamentary majority, he would need another party to help his coalition overcome opposition from NUPES. That support won’t likely come from National Rally, as Le Pen has railed against Macron’s plan, calling a higher retirement age “unfair.”
Sunday’s first-round election was plagued by record-low turnout, with fewer than half of registered voters casting a ballot.