France's President Emmanuel Macron
France's President Emmanuel Macron Image Credit: AFP

Paris: President Emmanuel Macron called on parties that represent "republican forces" to build a broad majority from the political centre after snap elections left France with a divided parliament and no obvious path toward a stable government.

In his first substantive statement on the deadlock caused by his surprise decision to call the ballot - made in a letter published in France's regional press on Wednesday - Macron said that although the far right won the first round with almost 11 million votes, "you clearly refused to let them enter government." His definition of appropriate parties also de facto excluded the far-left France Unbowed.

"I call on all political forces that recognise themselves in republican institutions, the rule of law, parliamentarianism, a European orientation and the defense of French independence, to engage in sincere and loyal dialog to build a solid majority, necessarily diverse, for the country," Macron said.

He acknowledged that the elections had demonstrated "a clear demand for change and for power-sharing," and so obliged such political groups "to build a broad-based partnership."

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Macron isn't currently in France, having left to meet with other NATO leaders at the military alliance's summit in Washington. He left behind a cacophonous group of self-appointed candidates vying to become prime minister, after Sunday's second round left a complex split in the French National Assembly that sets the stage for very un-French deal-making to try to form a lasting governing coalition.

In his letter, the president said that he would wait to name a prime minister in order to give the discussions a chance to bear fruit. In the interim, the current government will continue to operate, he wrote.

While the left-wing New Popular Front - which includes the Socialists, the Greens and the far-left France Unbowed - has the most lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, it's more than 100 seats short of an outright majority in the 577-seat National Assembly. No other parties, including Macron's, have any clear path to a majority either.

That has left Macron in the role of potential kingmaker. While it appeared that he might look either to the centre-left or to the centre-right to try construct a workable government with enough members to survive, he instead appears to be trying to court both at the same time, betting that it might produce a majority. It's a gambit he tried in 2022 though it never worked for him then.