Emmanuel Macron's En Marche wins majority in parliamentary elections

Claudine Rigal
Juin 19, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017, at 6:45 p.m. EDT: French newspaper Le Parisien reported French President Emmanuel Macron's party La République en Marche, which he started past year, and ally Modem have secured 355 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly.

Two pollsters projected that Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) and its Modem allies would win 355-360 seats in the 577-seat lower house, lower than previously forecast.

Polls show Macron's party party crushing France's traditional parties, the rightwing Republicans and Socialists, but also the far-right National Front of defeated presidential candidate Marine Le Pen which faces major disappointment. With its allies, the Socialists could get fewer than 50 seats after this vote, projections showed.

Le Pen said she would "fight with all necessary means the harmful projects of the government", especially what she called Macron's pro-European, pro-migrant policies. The Socialists, who before Macron ran the government, won only 6 percent of the vote. "The president of the Republic has all the powers", Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said after announcing he would step down as party chief.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, wrote Sunday on Twitter that "France now has a strong president with a strong majority in parliament". But analysts say that coming shortly after a rollercoaster presidential contest, it is less a reflection of brewing hostility towards Macron than the manifestation of a benevolent wait-and-see attitude towards a man who promises to overhaul the country's ossified political system and reinvigorate its economy.

The turnout in France's parliamentary election is trending low, with just over 35 percent of eligible voters casting ballots by late afternoon.

Just months ago, Macron was given little chance of becoming president, never mind controlling parliament, but he and the movement he founded 16 months ago have tapped into widespread desire for wholesale change.

The party shed around 200 seats after five years in power under former president Francois Hollande, leaving them with only around 27 to 49 seats.

Sunday's votes also draws a line under French elections, which had been viewed as a key risk to markets earlier this year given the popularity of anti-euro far-right leader Marine Le Pen heading into presidential elections in April and May.

Many candidates in his party joined only after Macron won the presidency in May.

France's radical left, in the form of France Insoumise and Communists managed to increase their representation, from 15 seats to 28 as did the far-right Front National which gained six seats to reach eight. Mélénchon himself was expected to have been elected to the parliament after winning the battle for the seat in Marseille. We have won!, Le Pen said, "Voters of the 11th district elected me by nearly 58 percent and 66 percent for the town of Henin-Beaumont".

Ms Le Pen's nemesis, the ultra-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, vowed a "social coup d'etat", saying Mr Macron's plans to reform labour laws amounted to "destruction of the social order".

However, a long way behind in second place was the conservative Republicans party, who are set to win anything between 97 and 117 seats, according to initial results.

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