Seven lawmakers announced a split from President Macron’s La Republique En Marche (LREM) on Tuesday, saying they would join the newly-formed ‘Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity’ (EDS) group, which now consists of 17 parliamentarians who are demanding more left-leaning policies.
“I am a leftist. To remain so, I must leave LREM,” one of the breakaway MPs, Aurelien Tache, told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
LREM is left with only 288 MPs, leaving Macron one person short of the 289 needed for an outright majority in the lower house of parliament. Macron’s government will likely still be able to rely on the support of the centrist MoDem party, but the loss of a majority for the president will offer them more leverage over policy.
The defections are another blow for Macron as he attempts to get his halted political agenda back on track following weeks of protests against his pension reforms, destabilizing transport strikes and more than a year of anti-government Yellow Vest demonstrations.
Like many world leaders, the Covid-19 crisis offered Macron a sudden popularity boost in March as the pandemic took hold and governments were forced to act quickly. Macron’s approval rating surged to between 46-51 percent during the month.
The satisfaction with the French leader was short-lived, however, as his approval rating fell eight points back to 43 percent in April, with many unhappy with his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 28,000 people in France so far.
The new EDS group said it will side “neither with the majority, nor the opposition,” but will vote according to its own political agenda.