French MPs have chosen Éric Coquerel, a radical leftist who calls himself an opponent of neoliberalism and capitalism, as chairman of the National Assembly’s key finance committee, heralding trouble in parliament for the minority government of President Emmanuel Macron.
Thursday’s endorsement by Coquerel – an MP in Seine-Saint-Denis north of Paris for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s red-blue coalition, the New Ecological and Social People’s Union (Nupes) – came after when Nupes became the largest group in the opposition parliament for a coalition of centrist parties ruled by Macron. Council rules say the finance committee must be chaired by an opposition MP.
French conservatives have expressed concern about what Coquerel will do with the commission, the agency that checks the national budget and other financial laws and has access to confidential tax information, due to its hostile attitude towards the country. His rivalry with free markets and big companies and Nupes’s campaign committed to massive increases in public spending.
However, Macron’s government will be able to control the budget and pass financial legislation with the support of the centre-right Les Républicains.
The president won a second term in April defeating far-right rival Marine Le Pen but his coalition lost its majority in parliament in June’s legislative elections.
Coquerel, a veteran of the Revolutionary Communist League who was already a member of the council’s outgoing finance committee, has said he will play by democratic rules.
“Nupes rejects neofinancialism,” he told the French magazine Marianne before voting. “I represent real opposition to the system, and the end of [Margaret] Thatcher is ‘There is no alternative’. But that doesn’t mean we won’t play the democracy game.”
With its first minority government in more than 30 years, French politics is entering a period of political bargaining and compromise unfamiliar to Macron and his supporters, who have taken full control of the National Assembly. as well as the Elysee Palace for the past five years.
On Thursday, Macron acknowledged the need for compromise when asked what he would do after two months of political drift in France. He said the government will continue to make decisions to help people cope with the rising cost of living and the growing health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Although urgent action is normal, such actions are also normal taking into account the choice of our compatriots and taking place in good order,” Macron said in Madrid after a summit. NATO summit.
Élisabeth Borne, Macron’s prime minister, will present the government’s program to parliament and the Senate on Wednesday, although it remains unclear whether she will face a vote of confidence.
The first two bills presented to parliament – on measures to help people cope with inflation and contain the pandemic – are not expected to be particularly controversial, but Macron is likely to face challenges. opposition to any pension reform legislation was one of the main planks of his manifesto.
Macron and the leaders of Les Républicains have pushed for an increase in the official retirement age from 62 to as high as 65 to cut the costs of the public pension system, but this opinion is far righted by Le Pen. and the left opposes. by Melenchon.