PARIS: French leftist parties on Tuesday pitched potential candidates to head a minority government, with parliament adrift following an election in which no one political force claimed a clear majority.

Defying expectations, the New Popular Front (NFP) alliance of left-wing parties won the most seats in Sunday’s second-round National Assembly run-off.

Combined, it holds 193 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly but is well short of the 289-seat threshold for a majority.

As newly elected members of parliament showed up to visit their workplace ahead of a first session on July 18, the coalition of Greens, Socialists, Communists and the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) insisted they should form the next government.

The alliance was abuzz with debate over who to put forward as a potential prime minister, and whether the alliance should seek a broader coalition.

Olivier Faure, the boss of the Socialist party — a moderate member of the NFP coalition — threw his hat in the ring on Tuesday, saying he was “willing to accept” the job, on the basis of “dialogue” with the other coalition members.

The Socialist party’s secretary-general, Pierre Jouvet, had prepared the ground earlier, saying that “Faure alone has the profile to reassure and be prime minister”.

This, observers said, was an open invitation to the hard-left LFI party to back the Socialist as a consensus choice rather than LFI’s own highly divisive boss Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Some party members, meanwhile, have suggested that LFI deputy Clemence Guette, 33, could be a promising alternative from within their own ranks.

Either way, NFP members plan to name a potential prime minister “by the end of the week,” leading LFI figure Mathilde Panot said.

In the French system, the president nominates the prime minister, who must be able to survive a confidence vote in parliament — a tricky proposition with three closely balanced political forces in play.

Macron’s camp came second in Sunday’s vote, taking 164 seats after voters came together to block the far-right National Rally (RN) from power.

This left the anti-immigration, anti-Brussels outfit in third place.

‘None can govern alone’

The president has kept Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s government in place for now, hoping horse-trading in the coming days and weeks could leave an opening for him to reclaim the initiative.

Members of Macron’s camp have been eyeing both the centre-left Socialists and conservative Republicans as possible allies of convenience for a new centrist-dominated coalition, which would leave them at least partly in charge.

“None of the three leading blocs can govern alone,” Stephane Sejourne, head of Macron’s Renaissance party, wrote in daily Le Monde.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2024

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