France's prime minister has declared victory for President Emmanuel Macron's fledgeling party in the French parliamentary election's first round, as projected results show his centrist bloc on course for a massive majority to push through his pro-business reforms.
"France is back," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Sunday, as he said that voters had sent a "message without ambiguity" in the first round elections for a parliament with a "new face".
The latest results, if confirmed, are another blow to the country's mainstream Socialist and conservative parties already reeling from Macron's election in May, which blew apart the left-right divide that has shaped French politics for the past century.
Pollsters said well over 30 percent of those who voted had picked Macron's centrist party in the first round, a result which they said could deliver him as much as three quarters of lower house seats when the second round results come in next week.
His one-year-old Republic on the Move, known as En Marche! (LREM), party fielded more than 400 candidates, bringing together seasoned veterans and political novices including a former bullfighter, fighter pilot and ex-armed police commander.
But the election was marked by low turnout, with just 41 percent of registered voters in France having cast ballots by late afternoon.
The head of the leftist Socialist party, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, said that there would be no room for democratic debate in the parliament if Macron's party were to win the forecasted landslide in the second round.
"It's a renewal of the political class," Reuters news agency quoted Jose Jeffrey, a health ministry administrator who voted LREM, as saying. "I've known people who have been MPs for 40 years."
At the close of voting, pollster Elabe projected Macron's Republic on the Move and its centre-right Modem ally would win 32.6 percent of the first round vote.
Trailing behind, the conservative Republican party and their allies were forecast securing 20.9 percent support.
The far-right National Front party secured 13.1 percent, and the Socialist Party and a grouping of left-wing parties only managed nine percent.
Elabe projected this would translate in the second round into a massive 415-445 seats for LREM-Modem, Reuters reported.
The Republicans would become the largest opposition force with 80-100 seats, Elabe projected.
Source: News agencies