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France: Macron’s Party Wins Big


(RFE/RL) — Final results from the first round of the French parliamentary elections indicate President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party will capture an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly.

Election officials on June 12 said that with nearly all ballots counted, Macron’s Republique en Marche party (Republic on the Move) had 28 percent of the vote in an election marked by a historically low turnout. Together with allies, the party won 32.3 percent of the vote.

The conservative Republicans had 16 percent, while the far-right National Front took 14 percent.

Jean-Luc Melenchon’s far-left party had 11 percent, while the Socialists of former President Francois Hollande tumbled to 7 percent.

According to pollsters, the results likely will translate into Macron’s centrist party and its center-right MoDem allies eventually capturing 390 to 455 votes in the 577-seat National Assembly.

Election officials said turnout was less than 49 percent, a record low for modern France.

Some 7,882 candidates are competing for the lower house of parliament’s 577 seats.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round, all candidates who secure at least 12.5 percent will go into the second-round runoff on June 18. Only three candidates won seats outright in the first round, officials said.

If forecasts hold up after the second round, the pro-Europe Macron — France’s youngest leader since Napoleon at age 39 – would hold a solid mandate to govern.

The former investment banker said he looks to push through economic and social reforms, including an easing of tough labor laws and reform of the pension system

“France is back,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told French TV. “Next Sunday, the National Assembly will embody the new face of our republic.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office tweeted her congratulations to Macron for his party’s victory.

“Chancellor Merkel: My sincere congratulations to Emmanuel Macron for the great success of his party in the first round. A vote for reforms,” spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted.

Macron’s rivals decried the dangers of having so much power in one party’s hands.

“It is neither healthy nor desirable for a president who gathered only 24 percent of the vote in the first round…and who was elected in the second round only by the rejection of the extreme right should benefit from a monopoly of national representation,” Socialist party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said.

Francois Baroin of the conservative Republicans said political power should not be concentrated in the hands of one party, and he urged backers to turn out for the second round.

“Today fewer than half of French people expressed a preference,” he said. “This record level of abstention… bears witness to the continuing fractures in French society… They are neither forgotten nor wiped away.”

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RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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