PARIS (AP) — Emmanuel Macron may be weakened at home after parliamentary elections forced him into political maneuvering, but on the international stage, the French president has the resources to remain one of the world’s most powerful leaders.

France’s foreign allies followed Sunday’s election closely, in which Macron’s alliance won a majority of seats but lost a majority in the National Assembly, France’s most powerful house of parliament.

The result has made life much more difficult for the 44-year-old centrist at home, making it difficult to implement his plans, such as changing pensions and cutting taxes. However, this is not expected to derail its international agenda in the near future.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Macron has been at the epicenter of international diplomacy, and despite a historic shift in French politics and growing polarization, experts say that won’t change.

“There will be a lot more contrast between the pressures he may feel at home compared to his greater freedom of action abroad,” said Laurie Dundon, senior fellow from France at the European Leadership Network.

Macron, who is in Brussels for a two-day European Council summit, will travel to Germany next week for a G-7 meeting and a week later to Spain for a NATO summit.

The President of France has significant powers in the field of foreign policy, European affairs and defense. He is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.

France provided significant financial and military assistance to Ukraine after the Russian invasion and sent troops to bolster Europe’s defenses on its eastern flank. During the spring of the presidential campaign, Macron’s popularity rose because of his leadership role in efforts to end the war: he advocated tougher sanctions against Moscow while maintaining an open line with Russian President Vladimir Putin and almost constant contact with the Ukrainian president. Vladimir Zelensky.

Macron, who won a second term against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in April, even traveled to Kyiv in the week between two rounds of voting. earlier this month along with other European leaders.

France’s support for Ukraine is widespread at home, according to opinion polls, and opposition leaders have carefully avoided criticizing it.

The platform of the left-wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which has become the main opposition force in France, unequivocally stands for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The far-right Le Pen, who has long had ties to Russia, now says she supports a “free Ukraine” but has reservations about arms sales.

“Foreign policy is not an area that Le Pen or Mélenchon want to spend their energy on when they have so many domestic issues on which they can challenge Macron,” Dundon said.

“Neither of them wants to get involved in the mess of diplomacy regarding Russia and Ukraine,” she said.

First elected in 2017, the staunchly pro-European Macron has made no secret of his ambition to assume a leadership role in global diplomacy. His re-election in April solidified his position as a senior player in a Europe grappling with the war in Ukraine and its implications for the continent and beyond.

France’s strong presidential powers are a legacy of General Charles de Gaulle’s desire for a stable political system throughout the Fifth Republic, which he founded in 1958 after short-lived and ineffective governments were replaced in the post-World War II era.

The President represents the country abroad, meets with heads of foreign states and governments. The Prime Minister, appointed by the President, is accountable to Parliament.

The National Assembly has little power over the President’s foreign agenda, although it retains control over government spending.

“Parliament was not asked to express its opinion either on the shipment of weapons to Ukraine, or on France’s external operations, in particular in the Sahel, in the Middle East as part of the coalition against ISIS, or in Afghanistan,” Nicolas Tenzer said. This is written by a senior researcher at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

However, Parliament must give permission for the extension of these operations after four months, he stressed.

An insolent opposition, both left and right, may try to use the power of parliament to stir up debate. Every week, legislators have the right to ask questions to members of the government, but not to the president, including on foreign policy issues. This is an opportunity to raise criticism on key issues.

But the debate in France is expected to remain focused on domestic politics.

In a sign that the president’s attention may at least temporarily shift to political restructuring at home, Macron made little mention of his international agenda on Wednesday when he delivered his first speech after parliamentary elections. He only briefly mentioned the European meeting dedicated to Ukraine.

“I will have only one compass: to move forward for the common good,” he told the French.


Surk reported from Nice, France.

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