PARIS (AP) – The centrist coalition of French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to retain its parliamentary majority after Sunday’s first round of voting, but with far fewer seats than predicted five years ago.
Predictions based on the by-election results Nationally, Macron’s party and its allies received about 25% -26% of the vote. It was neck-and-neck with estimates for a new left-wing coalition of hardline leftists, Socialists and Green Party supporters. Nonetheless, Macron’s candidates are predicted to win in a greater number of districts than their left – wing rivals, giving the presidency a majority.
In the first round on Sunday, 6,000 candidates between the ages of 18 and 92 competed for 577 seats in the French National Assembly.
France’s two-round voting system is complex and out of proportion to the nationwide support for one party. In the undecided races on Sunday, up to four candidates with 12.5% support each will run in the second round of voting on June 19.
Following Macron’s re-election in May, his centrist coalition sought an absolute majority to help implement his campaign promises, including tax cuts and raising France’s retirement age from 62 to 65.
Nevertheless, in Sunday’s poll, Macron’s party and allies may have trouble winning more than half of the seats in the legislature, five years ago, when they won 361 seats. Poll agencies estimate that Macron’s centrists could win between 255 and 300 seats, and that the left – wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon could win more than 200 seats.
With less than half of France’s 48.7 million voters casting their ballots, Sunday’s turnout was the lowest for a parliamentary election.
Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne said, “We have a week of action, a week to believe, a week to get a strong and clear majority.”
“Given the state of the world and the war at the gates of Europe, we can not take the risk of instability,” he said, urging voters to rally behind Macron’s coalition in the second round. “In the face of adversity, we will not succumb.”
Mலlenchon, who had hoped that the election would place him as prime minister, did not accept the preliminary predictions that his coalition would come first.
“There is no sense in the number of seats at this time,” he said.
Mன்சlenchon urged the French to select his coalition’s candidates in the second round and to “categorically reject Macron’s ruined plans of the majority.” His platform includes significant minimum wage increases, lowering the retirement age to 60 and locking up energy prices due to the war in Ukraine.
Although Macron defeated Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate in the presidential election, the French parliamentary election has traditionally been a tough contest for far-right candidates. Competitors from other parties tend to consolidate or sideline to increase their chances of defeating far-right candidates in the second round.
Predictions show that Le Pen’s far-right National Rally Party could win 10 to 30 seats more than eight seats five years ago. If it passes 15 seats, it will be able to form a parliamentary committee and gain more power in the assembly.
Le Pen, who is running for re-election in his stronghold of Henin-Beaumont in northern France, praised the results on Sunday.
“It is important that next Sunday Emmanuel Macron does not allow himself to gain an absolute majority, he will abuse his selfish and brutal methods and impose his anti-social agenda,” he said.
Le Pen called on voters not to go to the polls or to go to the polls in constituencies where there are only Macron or Mélenchon candidates.
Outside a polling station in the working class district of Paris, voters debated whether to support Macron’s party for smooth governance and avoid extremist views, or to support his opponents to ensure that greater political perspectives are asked.
“If you have a parliament that is not fully aligned with the government, it engages in very interesting conversations and discussions,” said Dominic DiBarre, a retired scientist. “But on the other hand, (a split) is always a sign of failure in some way.”
Jeffrey Schaefer in Paris, Daniel Cole in Marseille and Alex Turnbull in Le Touquet, France.
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