French far-left leader decries low voter turnout

Supporters in Paris of Emmanuel Macron's party react after polls closed for the first round of the French legislative elections Sunday. His one-year-old Republic on the Move (LREM) party fielded both seasoned veterans and political novices including a former bullfighter, a fighter pilot and a former armed police commander.

"It is neither healthy nor desirable for a president who gathered only 24 per cent of the vote in the first round of the presidentials and who was elected in the second round only by the rejection of the extreme right should benefit from a monopoly of national representation", Cambadelis said.

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.

The centre-right Les Republicains and allies are likely to form the main opposition bloc, with 21.6 per cent of the vote going to the broad centre-right. Polls project it could win about a dozen seats, in part because of a voting system that favors the biggest parties.

Projections by three pollsters of LREM's tally after the first round ranged from 390 to 445 of the assembly's 577 seats - potentially the biggest majority since president Charles De Gaulle's conservatives won more than 80 per cent of seats in 1968.

The Republicans, one of the two parties that controlled France until 2017, came second, winning between 85 and 125 seats, according to early projections.

On Thursday, the United Kingdom held a snap general election, which resulted in a hung parliament as the Conservatives failed to secure an overall majority in the House of Commons and fell short of the required 326 seats.

"We want a big majority to be able to act and transform France over the next five years", Mounir Mahjoubi, a junior minister in Macron's government, said as he was canvassing for support in the northern Paris constituency where he is a candidate.

Macron wants a powerful mandate to push through plans to reduce worker protections to boost hiring, boost security and clean up corruption in politics.

Polling agencies also project a historically low turnout of around 50%, reflecting fatigue after a roller-coaster election season that brought Mr Macron to power last month.

The low turnout rate in the first round of France's parliamentary election suggests a sharp drop-off in interest among voters after the May election of President Emmanuel Macron. Only 49 percent of registered voters cast their ballots, according to the Ipsos-Sopra analysis.

French voters are choosing lawmakers in the lower house of parliament in a vote that is crucial for newly-elected president Emmanuel Macron. They had 314 seats in the last election but could end up with as few as 20 seats - and possibly no more than 35 - in the new National Assembly, pollsters projected. Top vote-getters advance to the decisive second round June 18.

National Front deputy Florian Philippot called on voters to unite against Macron's REM party, echoing similar appeals from other political parties who feared the prospect of a parliament overwhelmingly dominated by Republique en Marche.

  • Leroy Wright