PARIS (AP) — The French government spokesman said Monday that Senate elections have been a “failure” for President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party.
The conservative Republicans were the clear winners in Sunday’s vote for about half the chamber’s 348 seats. The Republicans now have 159 seats and their center-right allies have 50 seats, while Macron’s 17-month-old Republic on the Move! party has just 28 seats in the Senate.
Senators aren’t chosen by the public but by around 75,000 elected officials, mostly from local councils across the country. They are elected for six-year terms.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner told BFM TV that the defeat wasn’t a surprise because “those who voted are those who have been elected in 2014 and 2015 when Republic on the Move! didn’t exist.” Castaner was asked if the election result was a disappointment, and he replied: “Yes, it’s a failure, but it was expected.”
Macron will still be able to pass his reforms because France’s lower house of parliament has the final say in legislation.
Macron’s party is expected to seek an alliance at the Senate with other centrists, some center-leaning Socialists and some members of The Republicans party, in the hope of passing some sensitive bills more swiftly.
But without the support of a majority of senators, he might not be able to make changes to the French Constitution as previously planned, for instance to scrap the special justice court for government members and limiting lawmakers to three terms.
The Socialists, who suffered a major defeat in the presidential election in May, have succeeded in remaining the second biggest force in the Senate with 81 seats.
Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front, struggling with internal strife, failed to win a single Senate seat. The National Front currently has two senators, both elected in 2014.