1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

President Emmanuel Macron keeps France guessing

Andreas Noll
July 10, 2024

After a left-wing alliance came out top in the recent parliamentary elections in France, there negotiations are underway to decide on the next prime minister. Outoing Gabriel Attal is staying on in the interim.

A podium in front of a building in Paris and two French flags and two EU flags
The Hotel de Matignon in central Paris is the official residence of the French prime minister Image: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

Three days after the election, Emmanuel Macron had still not commented on the new balance of power in the country. There was silence at the Elysee. The French president was playing for time before appointing a new government. Though his prime minister, Gabriel Attal, resigned on Monday, he had decided to keep him in power until further notice. Observers doubted that France would have a new government before the Olympic Games came to an end in August.

The new National Assembly, whose first session will be on July 18, is now dominated by three comparably large political camps. The broad left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) alliance has 182 seats, the president's centrist Together bloc has 168, and Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally (RN) has 143.

The surprise winner, the New People's Front, is still sorting out who to propose as the new prime minister to the president.

Jean:luc Melenchon wearing a blue suit and a red tie, surrounded by press
Jean-Luc Melenchon is one of the most controversial politicians in FranceImage: Blondet Eliot/ABACA/picture alliance

Jean-Luc Melenchon

The controversial founder of the far-left party France Unbowed (La France insoumise, LFI) did not run for a seat in parliament and the party is currently coordinated by Manuel Bompard, who led the negotiations to form a New Popular Front with the Socialists, Communists and Greens in France. It currently seems unlikely that Macron would appoint either Melenchon or Bompard as prime minister, even though with 74 lawmakers, the LFI is the largest group in the leftist alliance. Not only the president but also certain members of the NFP are reluctant to hand over the reins of the government to a far-left figure.

Olivier Faure

Olivier Faure, the 55-year-old leader of the Socialist party, considers himself the winner of the parliamentary elections, even though his is only the second-largest group in the left-wing alliance, with 59 lawmakers. Faure has said he believes the momentum is with the Socialists, which made significant gains in this election, while the LFI actually lost one seat. At the helm of the party for six years, Faure is regarded to be extremely flexible and has a reputation for being able to work with all the factions within his party.

Olivier Faure (center) raises his fist as supporters standing on either side of him clap
Socialist leader Olivier Faure sees himself as one of the winners of the recent electionsImage: Aurelien Morissard/AP Photo/picture alliance

Marine Tondelier

The leader of the Greens, Marine Tondelier, is leftist alliance's lifeline to young voters. The 37-year-old, who has taken to wearing a bright green blazer in public, is from Henin-Beaumont, a former mining town in northern France, where Marine Le Pen enjoyed her first political successes and which has been governed by an RN mayor for more than 10 years.

Tondelier, who became leader of the French Greens a year and a half ago, showed herself to be eloquent and skillful during the election campaign. An emotional appearance on the public radio station France Inter where she expressed her anger at the French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who had been interviewed just minutes before, reached millions on social media platforms.

Marine Tondelier wearing a green blazer against a green background
Marine Tondelier has proven to be a gifted oratorImage: Adnan Farzat/NurPhoto/IMAGO

Xavier Bertrand

In addition to the three almost equal-sized blocs in parliament, the conservative Republicans are also returning to the National Assembly, France's parliament. Firmly anchored in French politics for decades, the party and its allies have 65 seats and could provide the Together presidential alliance with important votes for a relative majority.

Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts-de-France region, has called for a "national emergency" government comprising the two groups, and led by the Republicans.

Gerald Darmanin and Edouard Philippe

In the coming weeks, the 41-year-old Gerald Darmanin will continue to play a central role. As French Interior Minister, he is responsible for the security of the Olympic Games, which kick off in Paris at the end of the month. The political heavyweight was a member of the Republican party before switching to Macron's Renaissance party.   

A hardline advocate of law and order, he certainly is ambitious enough to become prime minister. The fact that the National Rally won the most votes in the recent elections, even if it ended up being the third party in the assembly because of the majority voting system, could speak in his favor. If Macron appointed Darmanin, he would be sending out a signal that he takes the concerns of RN supporters seriously.

France's Melenchon: 'It is a relief'

For his part, Edouard Philippe is already familiar with the office of prime minister — he served as Macron's PM from 2017 to 2020. The 54-year-old mayor of Le Havre and founder of Horizons, which is part of the president's Together bloc, is reportedly one of the most popular politicians in France at the moment. He has voiced criticism of Macron and has called for a "technical deal" between the Republicans and Together, under which France could be governed for at least a year.

Bertrand, Darmanin and Philippe are all united by the desire to prevent the left-wing alliance from coming to power.

There is plenty of behind-the-scenes negotiation going on right now in France. In the end, it will be up to the president to decide. His choice is likely to be some time coming and could be another surprise.

This article was translated from German.