France's Macron faces test in parliamentary elections

Almost 47 million registered voters will elect 577 members for a five-year term in the National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house of parliament. Parliamentary elections on June 11th and 18th are widely expected to give the young leader's even younger party a sweeping majority.

Opinion polls show Macron's centrist party getting at least 30 percent of first-round votes, with the right-wing Republicans and allies getting about 20 percent and Le Pen's far-right National Front getting 17 percent. In stark contrast, the bruised and divided center-right Republicans seem set to lose about a third of their 199 seats. There are a total of 7,882 candidates competing for the seats.

The vote to elect the lower house's 577 members comes a month after Macron, a 39-year-old former banker with little political experience, defied the odds to win the presidency of the euro zone's second-largest economy.

More than 47 million people are eligible to vote in the first round of the elections.

The National Front, reeling from a weaker-than-expected score for chief Marine Le Pen in the presidential election, could miss its target to get enough lawmakers to form a parliamentary group, though it is expected to do much better than the two deputies it had in the previous legislature.

To win in the first round, candidates need to secure an absolute majority and support from at least one-quarter of the district's registered voters.

French President Emmanuel Macron is eyeing a victory in the parliamentary elections kicked off on Sunday.

If correct, it would give Macron one of the biggest majorities in nearly fifty years and a strong mandate to push through the changes he promises.

In constituencies where no candidate is elected in the first round, there will be a second round of voting next weekend.

Polling stations close at 1800 (1600 GMT) in smaller cities and two hours later in Paris and other big cities.

The Socialists' demise could be underlined if its leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, 65, is ousted from his Paris seat by REM junior minister Mounir Mahjoubi, who is just 33.

If he doesn't have a majority at the National Assembly, Macron may come under pressure to reshuffle his government and choose a prime minister from the winning party, a situation called "cohabitation".

  • Leroy Wright