Macron set to carry on charm offensive to find allies for his political vision

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French president Emmanuel Macron will on Wednesday continue his attempts to break the gridlock afflicting the French political landscape since a second round of parliamentary elections left his grand vision for France in tatters.

Macron, whose party fell 45 seats shy of a parliamentary majority after Sunday's second round of polling, started a blitz of high powered talks with leaders of the parties that captured the votes.

The day of discussions at the Elysée Palace began with Christian Jacob, the head of the traditional rightwing the Republicans (LR), which has 61 deputies.

In their hour-long meeting - described as cordial but direct - the men discussed their respective hopes for France.

"I thought he was going to put things on the table but he was very cautious," Jacob told the French newspaper Le Figaro. "He was more in the listening mode," he added.

"We will not be all out to block legislation in the assemblée nationale but we will not betray our constituents."

Message

After his session with Macron, the Socialist party leader, Olivier Faure, said: "I understood that he had heard the message of the French, in the sense that he could no longer be the president, the omni-president, the hyper-president.

"There was a good intelligent exchange of views," Faure added.

"But then again, what will he do with it? Is it just a staged set-piece that allows him to say he has consulted?"

The most eagerly anticipated of Macron's meetings came towards the end of the day when he welcomed Marine Le Pen to the Elysée just over two months after beating her for a second time to the top spot in French politics.

"The group of 89 deputies that I have the honour of chairing is a group in opposition but does not want to be in systematic obstruction," Le Pen said after their 90-minute conversation.

Topics

She said the two politicians spoke on topics ranging from immigration to rising prices.

Le Pen also questioned the viability of the Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

"The problem is not the person of Elisabeth Borne but the policy she wants to implement," Le Pen added.

Macron rejected Borne's offer on Tuesday to resign. But she came under further attack from Jean-Luc Melenchon who heads the resurgent left-wing bloc, Nupes.

"She has no legitimacy to govern," said Melenchon who urged her to undergo a vote of confidence in the new parliament.

Even if Borne stays in her post, a cabinet shake-up is on the horizon.

Macron's health and environment ministers lost their seats in the election and by tradition will have to resign. The parliament speaker and the head of Macron's parliamentary group also suffered the same fate.

Work

And the extent of Macron's travails was brought into sharp focus on Tuesday night when the secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, said his union would refuse to take part in meetings with representatives from Le Pen's party.

"Our opposition concerning the National Rally has not changed," Martinez said at a press conference at CGT headquarters just outside Paris.

The options available to 44-year-old Macron range from seeking to form a new coalition alliance, passing legislation based on ad hoc agreements, or even calling new elections.

Macron had hoped to mark his second term with an ambitious programme of tax cuts, welfare reform and raising the retirement age.

(with newswires)

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