Macron's party makes big win in legislative election

Claudine Rigal
Juin 26, 2017

Partial official results show that French President Emmanuel Macron's new centrist party is clearly leading the first round of parliamentary elections crucial to his plans to change France.

"There needs to be in parliament lawmakers who will really oppose the disastrous policies Emmanuel Macron is preparing", Le Pen said, urging voters to mobilize to ensure the FN wins seats.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the 49 percent turnout - the lowest for six decades in such a vote - was "a failure of this election", acknowledging that the Macron team would need to reach out to those who stayed away.

Candidates needed to secure 50 per cent majorities to win yesterday, with a second round run-off on Sunday expected to decide most seats.

(In 2007, more than 100 candidates hit that bar.) The low turnout also puts a small dent in Macron's enormous mandate, as his presidential rival Marine Le Pen noted on Sunday.

In a once-unimaginable scenario, Macron's centrist party - established little more than a year ago - was projected to win between 390 and 430 of the French Parliament's 577 seats, according to an Ipsos-Sopra analysis.

The total of 28.21 percent of French throughout the country voted in favor of Macron's party, whereas the biggest opposition party, The Republicans, received 15.77 percent of votes and was followed by Marine Le Pen's National Front with 13.2 percent of popular support, the ministry's data showed.

The 39-year-old Macron's march to the Elysee Palace has moved forward virtually unobstructed, after he came from behind the scenes to overtake the country's political scene in record time.

If no candidate manages to achieve that target, then all candidates who won at least 12.5% of registered voters go to the second round, where the victor will advance to Parliament.

He voted for Macron's party, then brought his kids to play in the fountains of a Paris park on an extraordinary spring day.

"And the right is in a huge ideological crisis because Macron has taken some of their best people for his government".

Seven to 12 seats will be claimed by other candidates.

While it can be considered a fairly stable rule in politics that parliamentary elections, being "second-order" are less headline-grabbing than presidential, heavily personalized ones, a failure to recognize the importance of the French legislative election will lead to a risky knowledge gap about the conditions that will define Macron's presidency over the next five years.

Les Republicains election chief Francois Baroin appealed to middle-class and rural voters to choose his party in the second round, saying it would safeguard them against tax rises or cuts to public services in the countryside.

Macron's party has largely avoided controversy but one of his ministers who is running for re-election in Brittany, Richard Ferrand, is being probed over a property deal involving his girlfriend.

The Socialist Party suffered in particular.

Le Pen's presidential defeat triggered a row within the party over what stance it should take on the euro. But fewer than half of the 47 million voters turned out in the first round - the lowest level by far in a legislative election in the 60-year-old fifth Republic.

Macron's predecessors Francois Hollande in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 and Jacques Chirac in 2002 all won outright majorities.

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

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