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France: Emmanuel Macron calls for a 'new way to govern'

The French president has said opposition groups were available to work with him on big issues after his Ensemble bloc lost its parliamentary majority.

Emmanuel Macron touches his face while waiting to welcome Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala

Macron emphasized that France needed 'ambitious reforms'

France needs "ambitious reforms" and this would require compromise, President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address on Wednesday.

The speech was the first to the nation since his centrist Ensemble bloc lost its parliamentary majority over the weekend.

The new constellation means that "together we will have to learn a new way to govern and to legislate," Macron said.

"It must not mean (political) standstill. It must mean deals," he said.

What are the main issues for Macron to tackle?

After meeting opposition representatives in the days following the election, Macron said other political factions were "available to advance on big topics" including the cost of living, jobs, energy, climate and health.

Watch video 02:13

French election weakens President Macron

According to Macron, urgent legislation aimed to combat inflation and rising energy prices would be presented to parliament this summer. He emphasized that legal changes would not be paid for by higher taxes or new debt.

The president also called on the opposition parties to leave infighting behind and "clarify in all transparency, in the coming days, how far they are willing to go" in their support of such measures. He called on political rivals to take the next 48 hours to announce their stance.

Macron also acknowledged "the fractures, the deep divisions that run through our country" as shown by the election's outcome. He pledged to "build some new compromises" through "listening, dialogue and respect."

What is the new makeup of the French parliament?

The Ensemble bloc will remain the largest party, with 245 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, but without the absolute majority it has enjoyed for the past five years. In 2017, Macron's bloc had secured 308 seats.

This weekend also saw the far-left NUPES, led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, claim 131 seats and Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) win 89 — the best result in the history of the populist party. The center-right alliance led by Les Republicains (the Republicans) won 61 seats, but the bloc's leaders have already rejected the idea of forming a coalition with Ensemble.

Macron managed to fend off both Melenchon and Le Pen in April's presidential vote and maintain his far-reaching authority as the head of state. However, the 44-year-old must now find partners to help push his controversial agenda under the government led by his ally Elisabeth Borne. Macron's pledges include raising the retirement age from 62 to 65, boosting purchasing power, cutting taxes and further deregulating the labor market.

The former investment banker has also pledged to build more nuclear power plants, and build up an economy that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

dj/rt (Reuters, AFP)