Thursday

19th Jul 2018

Low turnout but big majority ahead for Macron

  • Macron's party could get more than 400 MPs out of 577. (Photo: Reuters)

The party of the new French president came ahead in Sunday's first round of the legislative elections and could get more than 400 MPs out of 577.

French president Emmanuel Macron can expect a wide majority in the National Assembly, France's lower house, despite low voter turnout in the first round of the legislative elections on Sunday (11 June).

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His Republic On the Move party (LRM) came first with 32 percent, ahead of the conservative Republicans (21%) and the radical left Unbowed France party (14%). The far right National Front got just under 14 percent, and the Socialist Party around 13 percent.

Sunday's results suggest that Macron's party could end up with between 415 and 455 seats out of 577 after next week's run-off.

The Republicans can expect 70 to 110 seats. The Socialist Party, which was the majority party in the outgoing assembly, would get only 20 and 30 seats. Unbowed France would have eight to 18 seats and the National Front (FN) between one and five MPs.

"The message of the French people is without ambiguity," prime minister Edouard Philippe said on Sunday evening.

He said that "millions" of voters "confirmed their attachment to the president's project for renewal, gathering and reconquest".

"Since last month, France is back", he added.

If next Sunday's vote confirms the first round, Macron will have almost no opposition in parliament, with the traditional main parties struggling to have their voices heard.

The main victim of the vote is the Socialist Party of Macron's predecessor Francois Hollande. Its leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis as well as its candidate for the presidential election earlier this year, Benoit Hamon, were eliminated in the first round.

"It is not healthy that a president who gathered 24 percent of votes in the first round of the presidential election has a monopoly in the assembly," Cambadelis said, referring to Macron's score in April.

If it is not able to get 30 MPs elected next week, the PS would not be able to form a group in the assembly and would not have any influence during the next five years.

After a record 10.6 million votes in the presidential run-off, the National Front will get only a handful of MPs. Its leader Marine Le Pen blamed other parties which "support each other" to beat FN candidates.

Le Pen, who got 46 percent in Henin-Beaumont, in northern France, could be elected and leave the European Parliament, where a procedure is under way to strip her of her immunity over a fake jobs case.

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

 Only 48.8 percent of registered voters cast their ballot on Sunday, the lowest turnout in French modern politics.

PM Philippe admitted the "demobilisation" of voters but said that it was because the "presidential election "ended the debate" about France's political direction and that "some political forces were unable to find new energy" after the presidential vote.

Francois Baroin, the campaign leader for the Republicans party, noted that "the level of abstention … demonstrates the persistence of divides in French society".

He said that a "reaction is indispensable" in order to have a "balanced power" in the assembly.

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