Macron asks PM Gabriel Attal to stay on for now after election

Macron asks PM Gabriel Attal to stay on for now after election48214740-3d3b-11ef-9e1c-3b4a473456a6.jpg

By Paul KirbyBBC News in Paris

Jubilation and stunned silence: France reacts to exit polls

French President Emmanuel Macron has asked his prime minister, Gabriel Attal, to remain in post “for the time being to ensure the country’s stability”, after election results left no party with an outright majority.

Mr Attal, who led the president’s Ensemble alliance’s election campaign, handed his resignation to Mr Macron on Monday, only for the president to refuse.

Although Ensemble lost many of its seats in Sunday’s parliament election, it came second, behind a left-wing alliance but ahead of the far right which had been expected to win.

The unexpected result leaves French politics in deadlock, with no party able to form a government by itself.

Macron asks PM Gabriel Attal to stay on for now after electiongrey-placeholderMap of France after election

The New Popular Front, a left-wing alliance cobbled together after Mr Macron called the elections, argues that as the leading group in the next National Assembly it has earned the right to choose a prime minister.

They were due to meet on Monday to consider who to propose for the job, but there is no obvious candidate who would satisfy the radical France Unbowed (LFI) party as well as the more moderate Socialists, Greens and Communists.

Mr Attal had announced he would resign on Sunday night, but left open the possibility of remaining in the job as long as duty required him to do so.

It had been widely expected that his resignation would be rejected when he visited the Élysée Palace on Monday morning.

President Macron is due to fly to the US on Tuesday for a Nato summit and Paris is hosting the Olympic Games from 26 July.

While it is not yet clear how long he needs Mr Attal to stay in office, the president made it clear that France now needed a period of calm.

Outgoing Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned on Monday that the country was facing an immediate risk of financial crisis an economic decline.

Since the results came out, Mr Macron has sought to steer clear of the political fray. A statement on Sunday night said that while he would respect the “choice of the French people”, he was waiting for the full picture to emerge in parliament before taking the next, necessary decisions.

The National Rally (RN) of Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella had been widely expected to win the election, after taking a strong lead in Sunday’s first round.

But even though their vote held up, with more than 10 million people backing RN and a group of conservative allies, they failed to come anywhere near the number of seats suggested by opinion polls,

They ended up with 143 seats, when they had set themselves the ambition of reaching an absolute majority of 289 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly.

Macron asks PM Gabriel Attal to stay on for now after electiongrey-placeholder DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP  French Rassemblement National (RN) far-right party's leader Marine Le Pen arrives at the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party headquarters in Paris on July 8 DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP

Marine Le Pen sought to look to the future after her party’s poor election result

The party’s two leaders had bitterly accused the left and centrist blocs of stitching up the vote, with more than 200 candidates dropping out to give a rival candidate a chance of defeating RN.

But by Monday, Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella were trying to look ahead.

“In just two years, progress has been incredible and makes victory for us inevitable in the short term,” said Ms Le Pen, thanking the 10 million voters who backed RN and its allies. “The number one party for numbers of votes and MPs.”

Mr Bardella was determined to focus on his future role in the European Parliament.

He is now going to lead a new grouping the European Parliament called Patriots for Europe, formed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Hungary has taken over the presidency of the EU this month, and already Mr Orban has angered several of his European counterparts by becoming the first EU leader to visit Russia’s Vladimir Putin in more than two years.

President Macron had called France’s snap parliamentary vote in response to RN’s victory in EU elections only a month ago.

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