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The French president is on course to lose his absolute majority in the National Assembly and control of his reform agenda after the first projections by four pollsters showed Sunday’s election delivering a hung parliament. The threshold for an absolute majority is 289 seats in the lower house and while the four pollsters’ projections varied, all agreed Mr Macron and his allies would fall well short of that.
Separate forecasts by pollster Ifop, OpinionWay, Elabe and Ipsos showed Macron’s Ensemble alliance winning 200-260 seats and Jean Luc Melenchon’s left-wing bloc Nupes securing 149-200.
If confirmed, a hung parliament would spark a period of political uncertainty that would require a degree of power-sharing among parties not experienced in France in recent decades.
It may result in political paralysis and even possibly repeat elections.
Mr Macron’s ability to pursue further reform of the euro zone’s second biggest economy would hinge on his ability to rally moderates outside his alliance on the right and left to get behind his legislative agenda.
In another huge change for French politics, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party could win as many as 100 seats, the initial projections showed. This would represent its biggest score on record.
The conservative Les Republicains and allies could also get as many as 100, which could potentially make them kingmakers.
Estimates also show that French Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon is set to lose her seat in the lower house elections.
Richard Ferrand, the head of France’s National Assembly and a close ally of Mr Macron, said he had been beaten.
Cristophe Castaner, a former interior minister and another senior figure who helped shape Mr Macron’s first five-year term, has also admitted his own defeat.
In April, Mr Macron, 44, became the first French president in two decades to win a second term, but he presides over a deeply disenchanted and divided country where support for populist parties on the right and left has surged.
The French president had appealed for a strong mandate during a campaign held against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, which has curbed food and energy supplies and sent inflation soaring, hitting household budgets.
Ahead of the second-round vote, Mr Macron said: “Nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to the world’s disorder.”
Mr Melenchon told supporters on Sunday night that the result of the lower house elections is a “totally unexpected and unseen” situation.
He added that his camp had succeeded in his goal to deprive Mr Macron of a parliamentary majority.
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