Macron loses majority as party defectors form new parliamentary group
Defectors from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party announced the creation of a new group in France’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday, depriving the president of an outright majority and raising pressure for more left-wing policies.
Seven lawmakers are splintering from Macron's La République En Marche (LREM) to join the new "Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity" group, which will count 17 parliamentarians in its ranks, including one-time Macron loyalist Cédric Villani.
That means the ruling party now only has 288 MPs in the National Assembly, one short of an absolute majority, and down from the 314 Macron had after he redrew the political landscape in 2017.
However, 17 is significantly less than the 58 MPs suggested by media reports earlier this month, indicating that party bigwigs had managed to stem the flow.
"The pressure from the executive, the party and the group was such that we had to move the announcement forward," one defector told REUTERS. "Many eventually decided not to take the plunge."
Macron's party, formed by the former banker to propel him to the presidency in 2017, had already suffered a string of defections by lawmakers frustrated by his tight grip on decision-making and his pro-business policies.
The French president can still count on the support of a smaller alliance partner, the centrist MoDem. However, the arithmetic may now give MoDem more leverage over policymaking in the final two years of Macron's mandate.
His reform drive has been stalled by the coronavirus pandemic, just as he was seeking to regain momentum after months of protests over his controversial pension reform and the "Yellow Vest" unrest.
The defectors do not consider themselves as opposition, but will push the government to adopt greener and more worker-friendly reforms to prevent voters from switching to the far-right, they said.
"If we don't show results quickly, the risk is that the French choose the worst in 2022, that's what we want to avoid at all cost," said Aurélien Taché, a prominent defector.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
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