French President Emmanuel Macron has rejected the offer to resign from the prime minister he appointed, saying the government should instead “keep and act”.
Some commentators criticized Elizabeth Bourne after Mr Macron’s coalition lost its majority on Sunday. His future looked in jeopardy after the result, requiring the president to garner support from rivals.
He is set to meet his political opponents for rare talks on Tuesday. But neither Marine Le Pen’s far-right nor the left-green coalition of Jean-Luc Mélenchon are willing to work with Mr Macron’s centrist government, which is 44 seats shy of a majority and desperately trying to avoid political paralysis.
The Elysee Palace said Bourne formally offered to resign on Tuesday morning, handing over a letter to Mr Macron – the head of state – who turned it down.
Mr Macron refused the offer “so that the government can remain on task and act”, the Élysée palace said, adding that he would seek “constructive solutions” to end the deadlock that threatens his agenda during his second term.
It is customary for the French Prime Minister to offer to resign after parliamentary elections. Often, the president will re-appoint the same person so that he can begin building a new government.
But the situation is different this time, as Mr Macron is asking Ms Bourne to continue in the same cabinet without resigning.
Analysts suggest this is probably an attempt to buy time, adding that a new government will be formed at some point, which may or may not have Ms Bourne at its head.
Meanwhile, party representatives will visit the Élysée Palace for high-level talks on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Analysts say the president may be eyeing a deal with the right-wing Republicans. The party confirmed that its leader, Christian Jacob, would attend the talks.
But prospects of a deal appeared dim in the run-up to the talks, as Mr Jacob hit out at Mr Macron in an interview with France Inter radio. “He’s the one who’s been arrogant and now calls for help,” he said.
“We are very clear on our stance. We are in opposition to Emmanuel Macron and will remain there,” he added. Ms Le Pen will participate, but Mr Mélenchon will not, the AFP news agency reports.
Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure and Communist Party boss Fabien Roussel, members of the Nupes left-wing alliance, will meet Mr Macron.