Monday, 21 August, 2017

France election: President Macron could secure parliamentary landslide

Polls open for French parliamentary election France begins voting in second round of parliamentary election
Howard Terry | 19 June, 2017, 01:23

Newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron's centrist party won a clear lead over the country's traditional right-wing and leftist parties in parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Macron's fledgling "neither right nor left" political movement, La République en Marche (LREM), and its smaller centrist ally Democratic Movement (MoDem) needed 289 seats to have an absolute majority in parliament; according to initial exit polls they were on track to take around 355 seats in the 577-seat national assembly.

An alliance led by the conservative Les Républicains party emerged as the biggest opposition group, with 125 seats.

The spokesman, Steffen Seibert, hailed the strong showing for Macron's year-old Republic on the Move (REM) in a tweet, adding that Merkel wished for "further good cooperation for Germany, France, Europe".

The ministry said the far-right National Front was in third place with almost 10% followed by the Socialists with 6.2%.

The populist Le Pen, running for a parliamentary seat to represent her northern bastion around Henin-Beaumont, appears likely to win after scoring 46 percent of the vote in the first round.

Far-left ex-presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is voting in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, where he is seeking a seat as well.

The Socialist Party, in power until last month, was forecast to win between 45 and 49 seats.

Macron left a position in the Socialist government to run an independent presidential campaign. The party's leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, immediately stood down.

Three pollsters projected turnout to be at 42-43 percent at the close of polling, a record low in the post-war Fifth Republic.

French authorities say 17.8 percent of voters have cast ballots so far in the final round of parliamentary elections, down from previous votes, amid concern about low turnout.

The ruling Socialist party, previously a mainstay of French politics, will face near wipe-out if the parliamentary election result mirrors the presidential one.

The pollsters project that Macron's candidates and their allies won as many as 360 seats in the 577-seat chamber.

Official statistics showed turnout by mid-afternoon at 35.3 percent, down sharply from the last election in 2012, revealing a degree of election fatigue after four votes in under two months.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also welcomed the vote's outcome, tweeting that it paved "the way for reforms in France+Europe".

Her National Front party is predicted to secure six seats.

That would allow him to move ahead quickly with promised legislation, including over changing labour laws to make hiring and firing easier.

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