France’s political opposition has reacted to a speech made by President Emmanuel Macron last night (June 22), calling out his “arrogance”, “lack of comprehension” and in one case using a ratatouille metaphor to explain the situation.
Mr Macron gave a short televised speech in which he acknowledged the fact that his Ensemble ! alliance failed to win an absolute majority in the MP elections last Sunday.
It means that his party will, in many instances, have to rely on the support of opposition MPs to pass bills through the lower house of parliament, the Assemblée nationale.
He called on other parties to state their positions on policies so that they could work out where compromises could be made.
“It will have to be clarified in the next few days how much responsibility and cooperation the different formations in the Assemblée nationale are prepared to take,” he said
“It is now up to the political groups to say in all transparency how far they are prepared to go.”
It did not take long for the opposition to criticise the newly re-elected president’s discourse.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon: ‘It’s not ratatouille’
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the de facto face of Nupes, a left-wing alliance of parties that won 131 seats on Sunday - the second most behind Ensemble !’s 245 - said that Mr Macron’s speech just “adds to the confusion of the situation”.
“The president is reinterpreting the political landscape based on the idea that he has received a clear mandate from the country.
"This is not the case. He was elected because a majority of French people did not want the far right.
“Since then, the majority of voters have rejected his proposals. Nothing can erase the reality of the French vote: choice is not ratatouille,” he said.
Ratatouille is a dish that includes mixing together stewed vegetables but recipes and ingredients vary greatly making it something of a hodgepodge of a dish.
“From now on, the executive is weak and the Assemblée nationale is strong,” Mr Mélenchon said.
Aujourd'hui, il n'y a pas d'autre réalité que celle-ci : l'exécutif est faible mais l'Assemblée nationale est forte.— Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) June 22, 2022
La Première ministre doit se présenter devant l'Assemblée nationale et obtenir un vote de confiance. Si elle ne l'a pas, elle devra démissionner.
Marine Le Pen: ‘A vague project’
Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), published a statement following Mr Macron’s speech in which she described his plans as “vague”.
RN is now the second largest opposition block in the Assemblée nationale after winning a party-record 89 seats – up from the eight that were elected in 2017.
“Despite last Sunday's rejection, the president still pretends to believe that the French people have voted for his ‘presidential project’, a vague and worrying project that not even his deputies [MPs] can describe,” Ms Le Pen wrote.
Malgré le désaveu de dimanche dernier, le Président feint toujours de croire que le peuple français aurait plébiscité son « projet présidentiel », un projet flou et inquiétant que pas même ses députés ne peuvent décrire. #Macron20h— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) June 22, 2022
Mon communiqué ⤵️ https://t.co/raDIbNTrMl
Parti socialiste: ‘It’s non from us’
Olivier Faure, first secretary of the Parti socialiste (PS), which is part of the Nupes alliance and won 24 seats, said that PS would only back Mr Macron if he proposed policies they agreed with.
"There will be no blank cheque given to the head of state,” he said.
“If he wants to transform the lives of the people in France, it is possible for us to be at his side.
“If he wants to increase the minimum wage to €1,500 [per month], I will vote for that.
“If he wants to increase pensions and ensure that pensions for people who have contributed all their lives… are increased to €1,500, I will vote for it.
“These are projects that we can get behind. But to explain to us that he would like us not to take a stand on anything, it’s a no from us.”
French Communist Party: ‘Macron discovers parliamentary debate’
Fabien Roussel, secretary of the Parti communiste français, joked that Mr Macron would finally discover the “virtues of parliamentary debate and the real role of the Assemblée nationale”.
“His speech… aims to avoid taking responsibility and to change nothing in his project.”
Les Républicains: ‘No blank cheque’
Olivier Marleix, president of the right-wing Les Républicains at the Assemblée nationale, was more forgiving in his assessment.
“There is no alternative to the dialogue and respect mentioned by the president. But there can also be no blank cheque on an unclear project,” he said.
He added that LR would make proposals on spending power next week.
Il n'y a pas d'alternative aux dialogue et respect évoqués par le Président. Mais il ne peut y avoir de chèque en blanc de surcroît sur un projet peu clair. La semaine prochaine les députés @lesRepublicains feront des propositions sur le pouvoir d'achat.— Olivier Marleix (@oliviermarleix) June 22, 2022
The Greens: ‘We will not be duped’
Sandra Regol, MP for the French green party Europe Écologie-Les Verts in Bas-Rhin, called his speech confusing.
“He admits that the people in France have chosen not to give him a majority while at the same time he asks all parties to back his programme, arguing that he has been chosen by the people in the April and June elections.
“It is not very comprehensible and not very serious.
“He basically said 'you elected me on my project and it is this project that must continue' whereas it seems to me that in the second round of the presidential election the French voted against the far right and not for Emmanuel Macron.
"The French will not be duped by this attempt to change the narrative.”