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Emmanuel Macron has now seen 24 MPs walk out of his party in recent weeks – shattering the French President’s overall majority in parliament. On Tuesday seven members of Mr Macron’s La République En Marche decided to quit – just eight days after 17 other members defected to form a new party.
Mr Macron now has just 281 members in the lower chamber – well short of the 289 needed for an absolute majority.
At the height of Mr Macron’s popularity following his election win in 2017, his La République En Marche party had a commanding majority with 314 MPs in parliament.
The latest group of seven rebels will form a new faction called “Agir Ensemble” (Act Together) and will become the 10th parliamentary group in France’ National Assembly.
In a statement Agir Ensemble insisted the party wanted to “give a voice to liberal, humanist, social and European political sensitivity”.
The statement read: “The creation of the group Agir Ensemble comes to embody and give a voice to liberal, humanist, social and European political sensitivity which must be able to express itself fully within the current majority.”
The head of the new faction, Olivier Becht, insisted the new formation was not in opposition and would continue to “support the action of the president”.
The 44-year-old likened the group to a “third pillar of the majority” alongside La République En Marche and the Democratic Movement (MoDem).
Mr Becht said: “We want to support the action of the President of the Republic and be a pillar of the majority.”
Despite the internal crisis Mr Macron retains power to railroad his policies through parliament thanks to the support of 46 MPs from the allied group MoDem, led by Pau Mayor Francois Bayrou.
A government source has downplayed the significance of the latest changes, saying the Act Together faction would be “absolutely loyal to the majority and a supplementary pillar”.
However another source said that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had criticised the move at an online meeting with La République En Marche MPs.
On May 19, when 17 members quit Mr Macron’s party, they formed a new political group named “Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity” (EDS).
The group aimed to pursue greener policies in order to “modernise” the political system, and reduce social inequalities.
The latest Odoxo opinion poll published on Tuesday found Mr Macron’s popularity had plunged by seven points to 35 percent over the last month.
France has been one of the hardest hit countries in Europe by the coronavirus pandemic.
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In France there has been more than 140,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 28,000 fatalities.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said France had spent £403 billion (€450bn) – 20 percent of the nation’s wealth – in order to tackle to economic crisis.
Like the UK Government, Mr Macron introduced a package of measures including state-subsidised furloughs, state-guaranteed loans, tax deferrals and handouts to small firms.
Mr Le Maire said: “If we take everything that has been done with the budget and in support of businesses’ cashflows, its 450 billion euros, 20 percent of the nation’s wealth on the table.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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