French President Emmanuel Macron narrowly lost his absolute majority in the lower house of parliament Tuesday, with the defection of seven MPs from his party La Republique en Marche.
The new group called “Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity” plans to advocate for “social and environmental justice” and will be the ninth in France’s lower house of parliament. It will side “neither with the majority, nor the opposition” in parliament but rather vote depending on the issues according to the group’s political statement.
A lower number of LREM MPs ended up defecting than first rumored. The new group has 17 members in total, mostly disgruntled leftist LREM MPs, including Cédric Villani who ran for Paris mayor against LREM’s candidate Agnès Buzyn, as well as MP Matthieu Orphelin who is close to the former Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot.
“I am a leftist. To remain so, I must leave LREM,” MP AurélienTaché told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. He had joined Macron’s ranks early on in his bid for the presidency and is said to have had a close relationship with the president.
Since the Yellow Jackets protest movement, there has been growing discontent among some members of LREM’s left wing who say the president’s party, that was meant to break the traditional left-right divide, ended up being more center-right than left.
The government disputes that accusation.
“The economic objective of the mandate was very clear from the start. Fiscal discipline, unblocking the economy, making the labor market more flexible. We implemented the 2017 program without ever straying from our center of gravity,” government Spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye told Le Parisien newspaper.
A group needs 289 seats to have absolute majority in the lower house of parliament. LREM now has 288 members — down from 314 at the beginning of Macron’s mandate — but the government retains a comfortable majority, thanks to the support of 46 MPs from allied group MoDem led by Pau Mayor Francois Bayrou.