New French prime minister: what is the timeframe and who is suggested?

Candidates from the far-left to the centre remain in the running

Candidates for the role include Olivier Faure, Marine Tondelier, Manuel Bompard, and Mathilde Panot, all pictured here
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It is the third day since the results of the legislative elections were announced, yet France is no clearer on who will form the next government.

Unlike across the English Channel, where the Labour party’s decisive victory confirmed the appointment of Keir Starmer as prime minister, a lack of a clear majority in the Assemblée nationale means, as of now, no one has taken the reins.

The left-wing alliance Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) gained the most seats (180), and say this gives them the opportunity to appoint a prime minister and form the next government, either as a minority or coalition with other parties.

Read more: What are key ideas of France's election winning Nouveau Front Populaire?

There are a number of possible candidates from the alliance’s various parties, including from the Greens, Socialists, and far-left La France Insoumise.

Politicians from the right and centre, such as former prime minister Edouard Philippe, are calling on MPs from President Macron’s alliance and right-wing Les Républicains not allied to the far-right to form a coalition to block both the far-right and left. 

The two groups together would still not have enough MPs to form an absolute majority, however they would have more than the NFP. 

Read more: France in political gridlock: what happens now?

When will we know the next prime minister?

One thing which is known is that President Macron is under no (official) timeline to appoint a prime minister. 

Whilst the president – who is the only person who can select the prime minister – must appoint one from the largest bloc or alliance in the Assemblée nationale, there is no timeframe in which they must do this. 

In theory, the president could refuse to appoint a new prime minister until a new election can be called (in a year’s time). 

This is deemed unlikely to happen as it would be viewed as undemocratic. 

The NFP said it would have a candidate confirmed by the end of the week. 

Read more: French election defeat: Could Macron step down as president?

Who are the candidates to be France’s prime minister? 

The situation means there are a few major candidates who could become prime minister, both from the left-wing alliance and the centrist bloc. 

Candidates from the NFP range from across the alliance’s major parties. The far-left La France Insoumise was previously adamant that as the largest party, the prime minister should come from its ranks. 

Despite being the largest singular party in the alliance, the combined MPs of the less radical Socialist and Green parties outrank them, meaning they could work together to give the post to one of their own members. 

La France Insoumise members have tempered their words in recent days, and are now simply saying the next prime minister must come from the NFP alone, and not specifically their party.

However, some names from La France Insoumise are still in contention. Chief amongst these is Manuel Bompard, who represented the NFP in some of the televised legislative debates during the campaign season, and is often the party’s spokesperson on major TV channels. 

Two women from the party – Mathilde Panot and Clémence Guetté – are also said to be in the running. 

Miss Panot is La France Insoumise’s president in the Assemblée nationale, and Miss Guetté directed the party’s campaign in the 2022 election on behalf of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Mr Mélenchon, the far-left stalwart and talisman of the party, is not in the running to be prime minister, however, as his name is considered too controversial for too many MPs from the other groups.

In the Green camp, national secretary of the party Marine Tondelier is the main name mentioned. 

The group only has 35 MPs, around half of the Socialist and La France Insoumise, meaning it is unlikely they will be able to convince the group of such an important appointment and are more likely to be given ministerial positions. Miss Tondelier represented the NFP during some televised appearances.

From the Socialist Party, the leading choice seems to be party leader Olivier Faure, who also represented the group during televised debates. 

He ranks above former president François Hollande – deemed too divisive – and Raphaêl Glucksmann (who led the party during the European Elections), who was critical of the NFP during the legislative elections due to the presence of La France Insoumise members.

Are there candidates from any other parties? 

Should the centrist and right-wing groups form a coalition it is unclear who would take the reins of prime minister – and how the NFP would react. 

Under these conditions however, perhaps current prime minister Gabriel Attal would remain. 

He offered his resignation at the beginning of this week, in light of the election results, however president Macron refused it, asking him to stay on as caretaker during the Olympics, and until a new prime minister could be chosen. 

Read more: French prime minister offers resignation, Macron declines

There are no other names publicly being declared as prime ministerial candidates from the centrists. 

There is a possibility that if a coalition did form, a ‘technocratic’ prime minister may be appointed (with the coalition’s approval), to prevent dissent. This could be a leading civil servant or public figure. 

In 2005, Dominique de Villepin, was appointed prime minister by Jacques Chirac, despite not being a sitting MP.