France's opposition party leaders snub Macron’s national unity government proposal

Opposition leaders say they can’t join ruling alliance due to distrust in Macron

2022-06-22 17:31:50


French President Emmanuel Macron's proposal of forming a “government of national unity” involving alliances with political parties on the left and the right is largely being snubbed by the opposition party leaders. 

In the absence of an absolute majority in the National Assembly, Macron is mulling a broad-based “government of national unity,” opposition party leaders who were called for political consultation at the President's Office confirmed.

Following the legislative elections on Sunday, Macron's Ensemble alliance, comprising five political parties, won 245 seats falling short of the 289 required for an absolute majority.

While leaders from the Ensemble alliance support the idea of the national unity government, there appears no breakthrough in the political crisis, as the opposition parties declared a lack of trust in Macron and a clash of ideas with his policies.

Bruno Retailleau, the head of The Republicans group which won 62 seats in the assembly, ruled out the idea of joining the national unity alliance as he said his party is “not Macron-compatible.”

"How do you want to make a contract when the trust is not there? Macron is the man of all reversals,” he told LCI news on Wednesday, adding that the party will sit in the opposition as is the mandate instead of joining the ruling majority and “betraying the will of our voters."

On the Left front as well, there has been no interest in switching cards in favor of the ruling alliance. Adrien Quatennens, the deputy leader of La France Insoumise (LFI), after his meeting with Macron on Wednesday, said his party is not in favor of “any arrangement” as it stands on the opposite side of Macron's policy. The LFI is part of the NUPES coalition headed by Jean Luc Melenchon which won 131 seats.

Fabien Roussel, the national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF) told LCI news that while the idea is appealing given the party's track record of participating in a unity government formed by former President Charles de Gaulle in 1945, it was “complicated” this time “because the level of distrust towards him (Macron) is really strong." He stressed that the head of state will have to make strong promises to bring together such a government.

Macron, re-elected in the April presidential elections against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, is facing stiff cynicism from voters. His insistence on carrying out pension reforms -- increasing the retirement age to 65 -- and the lack of urgency to fight inflation and climate change are emerging as key issues of differences among the opposition.

Interestingly, Macron also mentioned the unity government to his rival Le Pen during her visit to the Elysee on Tuesday, she confirmed.

Parliament Affairs Minister Olivier Veran, however, dismissed shaking hands with Le Pen's National Rally which won 89 seats in the assembly or with the Left LFI.

According to Veran, the enlargement of the majority would entail alliances based on issues with the left and the right with those parties who are "in the republican arc." Macron's Ensemble alliance would sometimes get the left parties on board and sometimes right, depending upon their interests to get certain legislation passed in the National Assembly.