Macron party tops French parliamentary vote - partial official count

French President Emmanuel Macron's party was on course Sunday to win a crushing parliamentary majority that will clear a path for his promised program of far-reaching reforms, according to projections from the first round of legislative elections marked by widespread voter apathy and another black eye for traditional parties that monopolized power for decades.

To gain a governing majority, Macron needs to win 289 of the 577 seats in France's National Assembly.

Multiple opinion polls tipped Macron's En Marche, meaning "On The Move", party to be the front-runner for the first round of the parliamentary election, projected to win together with its allies at least 30 percent of the votes, followed by conservative The Republicans with 20 percent and Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front at about 17 percent.

If no candidate wins over 50 percent in the first round, the two top-placed go into the second round - as well as any candidate who won the votes of over 12.5 percent of the electorate.

The Republican party is forecast to be the second most popular party, winning 21.5 per cent of the vote.

French voters are choosing lawmakers in the lower house of parliament in a vote that is crucial for newly-elected president Emmanuel Macron.

However, few MPs are expected to be elected in this first round of voting. With many fresh faces among the candidates, a political landscape divided among many forces from the far-left to the far-right and abstention predicted to be at over 40 percent, that is unlikely to happen in many constituencies. Polling stations in the largest cities were to remain open until 8pm (1800 GMT, 2am Malaysia) with exit polls released immediately afterwards.

Macron's new prime minister, Edouard Philippe, and 22 government members are already drafting laws but need a new parliament in place to vote on them.

The new president's party has named many candidates who have never held office in an attempt to freshen up the political scene.

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.

Half of Macron's En Marche candidates are civil servants. The National Front party can receive from five to 15 seats in the parliament.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in a strong fourth place in the presidential vote with almost 20 percent support, is running for a parliamentary seat in the southern city of Marseille.

  • Leroy Wright