Paris, France— President Emmanuel Macron continued bulldozing France’s political establishment as his upstart La République en Marche! (LREM) party topped Sunday’s first-round legislative vote and appeared poised to claim a historic majority in parliament.
Based on the first-round results, candidates from Macron’s LREM, a political party that barely existed one year ago, were projected to take between 415 and 445 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly next week. It would represent the largest parliamentary majority for a single party in France since the end of World War II.
The LREM party won 32.32 percent of all votes, according to official final results published by the French Interior Ministry, in an election that was also marked by a record-high abstention of 51.29 percent. The mainstream conservative Les Républicains party finished the night in second place with 21.56 percent support. They were projected to win between 70 and 110 seats in the next Assembly according to a projection by Ipsos for FRANCE 24.
Les Républicains leaders, who only weeks ago felt confident about securing a majority in parliament, acknowledged the “disappointing” results. Other established political camps, left angling for what appeared would be a paltry number of seats, also had little to celebrate.
Despite half of French voters having chosen not to cast a ballot, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said they had delivered an “unambiguous” message on Sunday. “Millions of you have confirmed your attachment to the president of the Republic’s project of renewal, unification and re-conquest,” Philippe declared in a statement.
Voters will return to the ballot box for the second round of the legislative poll on June 18, with public opinion experts expecting participation to improve slightly.
Participation in French parliamentary elections has been in free fall over the past three decades. The year 1978 saw the highest participation in a first-round legislative vote, with 83.3 percent of voters casting a ballot. The lowest turnout – until now – was in 2012, when only 57.2 percent of voters participated.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen put on a brave face in front of the cameras on election night and trumpeted her own first-place score in the northern constituency she is vying to represent. But her National Front (FN) party was staring at yet another defeat.
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