French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance is expected to keep its parliamentary majority after the first round of voting, according to projections on Sunday.
Projections based on elections’ partial results showed at the national level, Macron’s party and its allies got about 25-26 percent of the vote. They were neck-in-neck with a new leftist coalition composed of hard-left, Socialists and Green party supporters.
Yet Macron’s candidates are projected to win in a greater number of districts than their leftist rivals, giving the president a majority.
Macron would need to secure at least 289 of the 577 seats to have a majority for pushing through legislation during his second five-year term.
Government insiders expected a relatively poor showing in the first round for Macron’s coalition “Ensemble”, with record numbers of voters seen abstaining.
“I voted for hope … so not for our current president,” said Michel Giboz, 71.
Ivan Warren, who voted for Macron in the presidential election, wants to see him win a majority.
“It’s important to me that we have a strong government, which allows us to represent France in the most effective way possible,” the 56-year-old computer scientist said.
Elections for the 577 seats in the lower house National Assembly are a two-round process. More than 6,000 candidates, ranging in age from 18 to 92, are running to win seats in the National Assembly in the first round of the election. Those who receive the most votes will advance to the decisive second round on June 19.
Following Macron’s reelection in May, his centrist coalition is seeking an absolute majority that would enable it to implement his campaign promises, which include tax cuts and raising the retirement age from 62 to 65.
The main opposition is a newly created coalition made up of leftists, greens and communists led by hard-left figure Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Mélenchon urged voters to give his coalition a majority and thereby force Macron to name him as prime minister, which would prompt a situation called “cohabitation”.
The leftists’ platform includes a significant minimum wage increase, lowering the retirement age to 60, and locking in energy prices.
Though Mélenchon’s coalition could win more than 200 seats, current projections give the left little chance of winning a majority. Macron and his allies are expected to win between 260 and 320 seats, according to the latest polls.
The French far-right, led by Marine Le Pen, is expected to win at least 15 seats, allowing it to form a parliamentary group and gain greater powers at the assembly.
The parliamentary election is traditionally a difficult race for far-right candidates, as rivals tend to step aside in the second round to improve the chances of another contender.
Le Pen’s National Rally hopes to do better than five years ago when it won eight seats.
Results may also be impacted by an expected record-low voter turnout. Pollsters say less than half of France’s 48.7 million electorate is expected to cast ballots.