MACRON'S grip on power has been crippled by a shock move from rebels within his own party that has cost him his majority.

Seven defectors from Emmanuel Macron's ruling party announced the creation of a new group in France's lower house of parliament on Tuesday, pulling the rug from under him.

The defectors said they do not consider themselves as opposition, but will push the government to adopt more workers and want environment-friendly reforms to prevent voters from leaning more toward the far-right.

One defector, Aurelien Tache, said: "If we don't show results quickly, the risk is that the French choose the worst in 2022, that's what we want to avoid at all cost."

The split means that the president has lost his outright majority by one MP within the 577 seat National Assembly, and heaps on the pressure from the left.

Seven lawmakers quit Macron's La Republique En March (LREM) to join the new 17 strong "Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity" group.

Macron's party now only has 288 MPs, down from the 314 Macron had after he redrew the political landscape in 2017.

However, the new EDS group was supposed to have 58 MPs according to French media reports earlier this month, indicating that party bigwigs had managed to stem the flow.

Another defector told Reuters: "The pressure from the executive, the party and the group was such that we had to move the announcement forward.

"Many eventually decided not to take the plunge."

The EDS doesn't have a formal party structure at this stage, but members are likely to be ejected from their respective parties relatively soon, leaving them as a cluster of independents.

Macron's foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the defections "a pity" but said the government would still be backed by other centrist MPs.

Due to inter-party alliances Macron can still pass laws without too much hassle, but the latest defections have been another big blow politically that has loosened his grip on power.

Richard Ferrand, the president of the National Assembly and a Macron ally, said the government could still count on 342 votes in the lower house.

'A PITTY'

Macron's party that was formed by the former banker to propel him to the presidency in 2017, smashing extreme right-wing candidate Le Pen in the process, has already suffered the loss of another 19 lawmakers frustrated by his tight grip on decision-making and his pro-business policies.

The reform drive that propelled him to power has also been stalled by the coronavirus pandemic, just as he was seeking to regain momentum after weeks of pension reform and the "yellow vest" protests in 2018-19 that saw his approval ratings plummet to 18 per cent.

However, luckily for Macron, the French political system means that his presidency is not totally tied in with house politics as he is elected separately, much like in the US.

Macron has been told he can still count on the support of a smaller alliance partner, the centrist MoDem, the fact he no longer has an absolute majority gives his allies more leverage over policymaking in the final two years of his current term.

The National Assembly will also be up for election in 2022, meaning that LREM will have to fight for a new majority even if Macron retains the presidency.

While it is not unheard of for a prime minister and president to be from opposing parties, it would make the job a lot harder for Macron should he win another term.


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