The French Prime Minister will face the baptism of fire in a divided parliament

French Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne will outline the government’s political priorities in her first speech to what promises to be a stormy parliament on Wednesday.

The 61-year-old will make the usual “broad political statement” to kick off the legislative session, which is being watched closely given Borne’s weak position leading a minority government.

Centrist President Emmanuel Macron suffered a setback in last month’s legislative elections that saw his allies miss out on a majority by 39 seats.

He and Borne have since failed to coax opposition parties into forming a coalition.

“The prime minister works around the clock,” a minister told AFP this week. “She meets everyone, she calls everyone. She really listens, so we’ll get through this.”

With no formal allies in the 577-seat National Assembly, Borne decided against calling a vote of confidence on his political speech – something nearly all former prime ministers have done after their first appearances in the lower house.

Holding a vote was “too risky” for Borne, who would have been forced to step down if defeated, said Bruno Cautres, a researcher at the Cevipof d’études politiques at Sciences Po Paris University.

“She made the right decision, but she didn’t really have a choice.”

But the far-left La France Insoumise (LFI) party, one of the big winners in June’s legislative elections, said it would immediately seek a motion of no confidence on Tuesday, which would also bring down Borne if it loses.

Analysts consider it very unlikely that it will pass, with the other opposition parties of the far-right National Rally and the right-wing Republicans ruling out supporting LFI.

Borne’s immediate priorities should be to pass laws with broad support, such as one to help low-income families deal with the cost of living crisis and another to unlock additional funds for health services. in trouble.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will not call the usual vote of confidence in Parliament Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will not call the usual vote of confidence in Parliament Photo: AFP / Ludovic MARIN

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin hoped the government could count on the support of the right-wing Republican Party for bills aimed at tackling immigration and crime, saying “the hand of the cabinet was outstretched”.

“If we introduce bills filled with common sense and with the spirit of compromise that we have today, will this outstretched hand be taken by our adversaries?” he told BFM television.

“No one would understand” if opposition parties systematically blocked the government, he said.

Without a formal coalition, intense negotiations with opposition parties will be necessary each time the government wants to pass a law.

Borne will also be constantly vulnerable to a no-confidence motion called by opponents, making French politics unpredictable and unstable for the foreseeable future.

Just two months after being re-elected for a historic second term, Macron has reduced his ability to push through reforms, with plans to raise the retirement age to 65 and reform welfare on hold for now.

French media have speculated in recent days about his state of mind, with some reports suggesting he has yet to mentally recover from the parliamentary setback.

Le Point, a right-wing weekly, said he had lost “his energy, his composure and his lucidity”, while the left-wing Obs reported that he was suffering from “physical exhaustion”.

Rumors that Macron is exhausted have frequently surfaced during his five years in power, fueled by reports that he survives on a few hours of sleep a night and often texts ministers early in the morning.

A cabinet reshuffle announced on Tuesday did little to breathe new life into his government as it failed to attract new heavyweights.

He kept most of the senior figures in their jobs and only brought in new junior faces with little political experience.

“Emmanuel Macron is no longer attractive,” Bruno Retailleau, a senior Republican right-wing official, told CNews on Tuesday.

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