Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- As forecast in the business newspaper Les Echos last week, French President Emmanuel Macron’ party, La République En Marche (LREM), has lost its majority in the National Assembly after a further 10 Deputies left his party. The government can now only count on 286 votes rather than the 289 needed to govern without the support of other parties.
The 10 MPs deserted his party and joined the independent group, Ecology Democracy Solidarity. The Deputies accused the French President of breaking his election promises and argue Macron is now running a right wing conservative government.
Unsurprisingly Ministers have hit out at the defectors, and say they are defying Macron's appeals for national unity during the coronavirus health crisis.
Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister, said: “I regret that some people want to reopen the left-right divisions that we and the French people wanted to put behind us in 2017."
The defection is another blow to Macron's presidency, which has been marred by strikes and demonstrations by the yellow vest protestors.
At the beginning of the year thousands of people protested the President's overhaul to the national pension system.
The proposals triggered a wave of strikes and demonstrations across France over several weeks.
But the Covid 19 crisis led Macron to suspend the measures, while his government focused on tackling the deadly virus.
Macron’s LREM lacks the sociological cement of an old party only being formed in 2016 to get him elected as President. Since the election he has moved steadily to the right and a number of Deputies no longer identify with his policies. In reality he has been forced to do this to fall in with the demands of the European Commission for economic change in France.
There are clear indications that the French President intends to form a new government for the run-in to the presidential elections in 2022. Some Deputies feel they will have more negotiating leverage with the government outside rather than inside the LREM.
The poor showing of Macron and LREM in the recent municipal elections is another reason to abandon a ship that may not be sinking but is clearly leaking. There has been a steady trickle of Deputies leaving the party.
It is very possible that the President will be re-elected for lack of a convincing alternative but without a majority. Deputies will have been thinking about their negotiating position in the formation of a new coalition government.