This Monday, the day after the result of the first round of legislative elections, I lent our projections from the Elaby Institute of 260 to 295 deputies for the outgoing majority, which were renamed together. This leaves him fearing losing an absolute majority in the National Assembly, which would require a group of at least 289 members. A relative majority forces him to compose.
It does not matter, basically, the current dispute among Nubians over the outgoing majority that was renamed together, over the method used by the Ministry of Interior to tally the results of the first round of legislative elections. The main lesson conveyed by Sunday’s election owes above all to this double remark: the hope to overthrow the outgoing majority to impose a government of coexistence is fading on the left at the same time as it dreams of finding an absolute majority in Hemiccre’s moves away from cunning candidates.
Relinquishing an absolute majority to benefit only from a relative majority would be no ordinary matter for the executive and its parliamentary supporters. On the contrary, it is the full face of the five-year term and the next legislature that will change.
289, the fateful number
We must first agree on the terms. The National Assembly, with 577 deputies and an absolute majority, wins more than half of the seats that fill the Palais Bourbon: a minimum of 289 convertible seats. Surplus interest is hardly in doubt. Armed with such support, the government can safely pass its bills in the House of Representatives, even the most controversial. In his video editorial on Monday, our Chief of Political Service, Philip Corby, highlights:
“For example, in the case of pension reform, you can have a strong mobilization on the street but if you have 289 deputies, the text will pass without a hitch in the National Assembly.”
However, this serenity is on its way to escape the tenure that will open. According to projections by the Elabe Institute for BFMTV and our partner SFR, Ensemble is credited with 260 to 295 representatives in the future National Assembly, crammed between a large left-wing opposition of 160-210 deputies and a potential but uncomfortable support of the right, rated between 50 and 65 parties.
Because, at 289 members, this poorly revamped majority will already live a very different daily life than it has enjoyed for the past five years: this time it must compose. “In the event that there is a relative majority, you have to look for other deputies, negotiate with them and so and modify the text to agree on this text,” continues Philip Corby.
Our political columnist, Alain Duhamel, also extends to this perilous character and subtlety with which any relative majorities are condemned… at the same time with some flexibility.
He explained in our group: “You need to negotiate with partners: the majority of ideas where you negotiate, topic by topic, can be either with a small part of the left or with the right.”
The memory of 1988… and why is it misleading
In short, a relative majority may be an alliance of compromises that is always fragile. Jigsaw divides with the traditions of the Fifth Republic, which enshrined the absolute power of the executive branch.
However, the event will not be unprecedented, and the institutions have also been able to absorb it well for the first time. From 1988 to 1993, the socialists could count on only 275 deputies, as against 271 right-wing deputies, all under the watchful eye of 35 individuals and 25 communists. So much so that Mitrandi quickly came up with the idea of opening up to the center.
“And this has not prevented Michel Rocard from bypassing, say, CSG, RMI,” notes Philippe Corby, even if, as he recalls, “we have to find compromises on every script.”
There is, however, a limitation that radically distinguishes Prime Minister Michel Rocard’s relative majority from that, still hypothetical, of Elizabeth Bourne. At the time, the former could have come out of parliamentary obstructions with heavy blows from Article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows for the forcible passage of a text contested by the parliament on taking responsibility for the government. Michel Rocard did not deprive himself of it, using this lever 28 times. But political mores changed a lot and the process, denounced by the opposition and resented by public opinion, saw its surroundings greatly restricted: the government could only use it once per session.
Parliament back in shape?
One feature of this exact equation remains true, however: The Prime Minister will be at the heart of the game. The Prime Minister continues to “become a key figure in this matter because he is the one who has to fight in the House,” said Alain Duhamel again: “Parliament regains an importance it has not had since 1962.” That year, the legislator sealed the head of state’s rise to power by adopting his election by direct universal suffrage.
Ultimately, they robbed their absolute majority for a relative majority, so the MPs together would have reason to be satisfied: the opposition would undoubtedly have less chance of being accused—repeated criticisms during 2017-2022—of reducing the National Assembly to nothing more than a scruffy parliament serving the Elysee.