(Bloomberg) -- President Emmanuel Macron is facing his first test in France’s parliament since losing his outright majority in elections this month -- offering a glimpse of how he plans to navigate the deeply divided house over the next five years.
The legislature’s influential finance committee will pick a new chair on Thursday, with far-right, far-left and center-right groups all set to be represented on the some 70-member panel. While Macron still controls the most parliamentary seats, the biggest party traditionally abstains from the secret ballot to pick the committee’s head, who must come from elsewhere.
Interfering in the selection process or trying to push through a center-right candidate who might be more supportive of his policies would signal a combative approach from the 44-year-old incumbent. That could stoke opposition and complicate the alliance-building he needs to do to pass his pro-business reform agenda down the line.
The finance committee reviews the proposed budget each year, can investigate government spending and issues opinions on the nominees for governor of the Bank of France, among other positions. The chair sets the panel’s agenda and can subpoena company or individual tax returns.
Left wing parties are likely to rally behind Eric Coquerel, who is currently a member of the panel, according to a person familiar with the thinking of far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. If Macron’s party abstains, and the leftist grouping stays united during the vote, it could force Coquerel through.
Jean-Philippe Tanguy, an adviser to the National Rally’s Marine Le Pen, is the far-right candidate, while Veronique Louwagie of the center-right Republicans says she is also a contender.
The chair can be elected with an absolute majority of some 37 votes in a first or second round. If an absolute majority is not reached, he or she can be elected with a relative majority.
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