French opposition tells ‘arrogant’ Macron: compromise to win support

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French opposition leaders told beleaguered President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday that they would not make life easy for him as he sought a way to avoid political paralysis after this weekend’s election setback in parliament.

Macron should fire his prime minister, some opponents said, after he earlier refused to accept her resignation, review his reform plans and drop his top-down approach to power.

While he enjoyed full control over parliament over the past five years, Macron now needs to find support from opponents, after disaffected voters angry over inflation and his perceived indifference delivered a hung parliament on Sunday.

It will not be easy. The election result may herald an era of political instability not seen for decades in France.

“I told the president that it was out of the question to enter into a coalition deal, that would be a betrayal of our voters,” Christian Jacob, leader of the conservative Les Republicains, said after meeting Macron, whom he had earlier described as “arrogant.”

Les Republicains provide the most obvious place for Macron to find support. The conservatives’ economic platform is largely compatible with Macron’s, including his plans to raise the retirement age by three years to 65.

However, the conservatives, whose past presidents include Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, have so far ruled out a formal German-style coalition pact.

Even so, Jacob said his party would be “responsible,” seemingly opening the door to potentially messy bill-by-bill negotiations. But even then, he stressed, it was up to Macron to make the effort to take their proposals on board.

“WASTING OUR TIME”

Jean-Luc Melenchon, a hard-left veteran who united the left in an alliance that won the second-biggest number of MPs, told reporters that Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne had to go.

“We’re just wasting our time,” he said bluntly, in a sign of how combative his camp plans to be.

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