France's Macron faces test in parliamentary elections

27 June, 2017, 14:28 | Author: Irene Delgado

President Emmanuel Macron's new party is set for a landslide victory in the latest round of the French election, allowing him to govern the country nearly unopposed for the next five years.

Some 19.24 percent of voters had cast ballots by midday (1000 GMT), the interior ministry said, compared with 21.06 percent at the same time of day in the first round of 2012.

It was the second setback for the anti-establishment party in barely a month after its leader Marine Le Pen reached the presidential run-off vote only to be soundly beaten by Emmanuel Macron and his bid to renew French politics from the center. Projections show pro-Macron candidates dominating parliament's 577-seat lower house.

We have not yet entered the aftermath of the reinvention of French politics, even as the presidential elections have finished.

But while Macron's LRM party is pushing traditional parties into irrelevance, it is not getting a strong mandate from French voters.

In the 28 days since his inauguration, Macron has made his mark on the worldwide stage: playing President Donald Trump at his own handshake game and winning; criticizing Russia's Vladimir Putin while standing beside him; and jumping in with new proposals after the US announced a U-turn on climate change.

Seven to 12 seats will be claimed by other candidates.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the 49% turnout - the lowest for six decades in a parliamentary vote - was "a failure of this election".

Pollsters forecast the Republicans would win 20.9 percent, the FN 13.1 percent, and the Socialists with a grouping of left-wing parties 9 percent.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris said everything suggested Mr Macron has won another crushing victory, with the only significant opposition coming from the centre-right Republicans.

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Polling agencies project that Macron's party will win a large majority in the second round June 18.

Though Macron's party La république en marche! is expected to do well, the personalized dynamics that saw Macron win over Le Pen with about two-thirds of the vote will not necessarily work for his fledgling party in the legislative election.

It would be a remarkable achievement for Macron, who won the presidency on May 7, by being a pro-European centrist, is hoping to carry out far-reaching reforms to overhaul the country's political system and economy.

The Macron victory is the biggest majority seen in France since Charles de Gaulle's landslide win in 1968.

Former French presidential candidate for the far-left party "La France Insoumise" (France Unbowed), Jean-Luc Melenchon speaks with journalists after the first round of the French legislative elections in the 4th district of Marseille, France, 11 June 2017.

Worse still, projections showed it possibly winning as few as just one seat in the 577-seat chamber in next week's second round.

"France is back", he said.

The FN had set the 15-seat goal in order to qualify as a parliamentary group, a status that gives a party more clout in the National Assembly with seats on committees and a role in setting the agenda.

The pro-European leader's programme enjoys strong support among liberal, well-educated voters in France's big cities, but he is less popular in poorer areas where industry is in decline.

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