French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party won a massive majority in parliamentary elections on Sunday, early projections showed, dominating the country’s traditional forces in a dramatic re-drawing of the political map.
Macron’s year-old Republic on the Move (REM) and their allies were set to win between 355 and 425 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, according to partial results after the second round of an election in which many high-profile figures were thrown out.
The result, if confirmed, would give 39-year-old Macron one of France’s biggest post-war majorities, strengthening his hand in implementing his business-friendly, pro-EU programme.
Macron’s year-old En Marche party is expected to win between 355 and 425 seats
But turnout was estimated to be extremely low, at around 44 percent, giving his critics grounds to claim he has no groundswell of support.
Emmanuel Macron’s glamorous wife and daughter-in-law cast their votes for him in at a polling station in scenic town of Le Touquet.
The passionately pro-EU Mr Macron hopes his vast new mandate will give him a particularly strong hand as he takes part in crucial Brexit negotiations.
Macron hopes the vast new mandate will give him a strong hand for putting forth his policies
The vote comes just a month after the 39-year-old former banker became the youngest head of state in modern French history, promising to clean up French politics and revive the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.
Macron’s centrist REM party is little more than a year old, yet pollsters project it will win as many as 75 to 80 percent of the seats in the 577-seat lower house.
But turnout was on course for a record low, a sign of voter fatigue after seven months of campaigning and voting amid disillusionment and anger with politics which could eventually complicate Macron’s reform drive.
Many of Macron’s lawmakers will be political novices, something which will change the face of parliament at the expense of the conservative and socialist parties that have ruled France for decades.
Macron’s wife Brigitte and daughter-in-law Tiphaine joined him to vote
One of the challenges for Macron will be to keep such a diverse and politically raw group of lawmakers united behind him, as he sets out to overhaul labour rules, cut tens of thousands of public-sector jobs and invest billions in areas like job training and renewable energy.
‘Among Macron supporters the mood is very different, with an overwhelming feeling that the president needs to be given a strong enough majority to carry out the policies on which he was elected just over a month ago.
A majority of up to 470 seats out of 577 in the Paris National Assembly is expected to go to REM, leading to Mr Macron saying he was ‘delighted to be with friends’ on such an important day.
Turnout at the parliamentary election was extremely low at roughly 44 per cent
Macron, a former Rothschild banker, will be in Paris tonight as the official results of the two-round parliamentary election are made public shortly after 8pm.
Both the Socialist Party, and the conservative Republicans, who have dominated French politics for decades, are set for massive losses.
The Republicans put up indicted criminal suspect Francois Fillon for president this year, and he now faces trial over a fake jobs scandal alongside his British-born wife, Penelope Fillon.
Macron has won over millions with his unconventional methods since being sworn in as France’s youngest ever president last month.
Marine Le Pen’s National Front is set to win far less than her 10 seats
Meanwhile, the Socialists are expected to be punished severely for five years of mediocre rule under President Francois Hollande.
Arguably the most humiliating losses are expected to be suffered by Marine Le Pen’s National Front, however. She believed she could become President this year, and preside over a new far-Right opposition, but they are set to win far less than 10 seats.
The only good news for Ms Le Pen, however, is that she could finally enter parliament herself after 24 years of trying.
She hopes to win a seat in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont, where she has bought a flat after failing in previous elections there.