French voters have given President Emmanuel Macron’s party a solid victory in the parliamentary election.
After a strong showing in the first round, Macron’s La Republique En Marche party is expected to win more than 400 seats in the lower house when the second round of voting concludes.
A majority will allow Macron to confirm his government line-up, headed by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, and to push through his liberalizing reforms, fiercely opposed by the left and the far-right National Front.
In a televised speech, LREM president Catherine Barbaroux said “the magnitude of this new majority is an opportunity for France“.
Key battles on Sunday include far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s attempt to win her first seat in parliament from the northeastern former coal mining town of Henin-Beaumont.
The result, based on official figures and pollster projections, redraws France’s political landscape, humiliating the Socialist and conservative parties that alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May.
The turnout rate in Sunday’s final round of voting to fill 577 seats in France’s powerful lower house, the National Assembly, is crucial to boost opposition parties. Le Pen’s National Front may get four to eight seats in parliament. The Socialists, who ruled the nation before Macron’s independent presidential victory in May, were decimated and only won six percent of the vote.
Macron’s party, which didn’t exist 14 months ago and offered novice candidates from civilian life, has drawn from left and right to fill its ranks, effectively blurring the traditional left-right political divide.
Ultra-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who Macron also defeated in the presidential vote, said he won in his Marseille district.
The turnout at 1500 GMT on Sunday was at its lowest for the second round of parliamentary elections at the same time of day since at least 1997, according to historical data given on the Interior Ministry. The party’s leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, immediately stood down.
Concern that opposition voices might be silenced, and pluralism allegedly diminished, by a massive pro-Macron legislature were reflected in a poll published Thursday by Elabo for BFM-TV suggesting that more than half of respondents hoped the second round would “rectify the first round with a less large majority than expected”.
Pollsters forecast them securing up to 470 seats, but low turnout in the first round has led critics to question the strength of the mandate for Macron’s ambitious reform agenda.
The Socialist Party and its allies are projected to win 20 – 30 seats, far less than its current 277 seats.
Macron, a 39-year-old centrist former banker who took office last month after a meteoric rise, has been the most vocal of European leaders in criticising Trump’s decision and in vowing to defend the Paris agreement.