Pollsters project Macron on course to dominate parliament

President Macron's La Republique en Marche (The Republic on the Move, LREM) and its allies took 32.3 per cent of the vote, official figures released early Monday show.

Conservative party The Republicans and allied center-right Union of Democrats and Independents came second with 18.8% but look set to lose half of their seats and possibly end up with fewer than 100 compared with more than 400 for LREM.

Marine Le Pen's FN party was left disappointed as she struggles to rebound from her bruising defeat by Macron in the presidential run-off, with the party's result largely unchanged from the first round of the 2012 vote, it stated.

Many of the En Marche! candidates have little or no political experience due to Macron's pledge to cleanse France's political establishment.

Mr. Macron's party has largely avoided controversy but one of his ministers who is running for re-election in Brittany, Richard Ferrand, is being probed over a property deal involving his girlfriend.

There are 7,782 candidates vying for the 577 seats in the lower house of France's Parliament - so Macron's party needs 289 for a minimum majority.

With 90% of voters accounted for, Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) and Modem allies had won 31.9% support, Interior Ministry results showed.

Macron has called for a "protection agenda" for the EU that includes a "Buy European Act" and regulations to prevent strategic companies from falling into non-European hands.

Investors shrugged off any concerns over turnout, buoyed by the scale of Macron's projected win and implications for reforms, in particular the relaxing of France's stringent labour code.

"Despite the abstention, the message of the French has no ambiguity: For the third consecutive time, millions of you confirmed your attachment to the president of the republic's project to renew, unite and win back".

Those signs of stability and cohesion in two of the euro zone's biggest economies were viewed as positive not just for French assets, but also for peripheral markets that have been in the firing line from any signs of instability in the bloc.

Speaking on Friday, French prime minister Edouard Philippe, who was previously part of the Republican Party, urged voters to back Mr Macron.

"Chancellor Merkel: My heartfelt congratulations to @EmmanuelMacron to the great success of his party in the first election round".

If, as polls project, Macron and his fledgling party win a commanding majority in next week's second round, it will be another blow for the mainstream parties on the right and left which failed to get a candidate into the presidential run-off.

The election was marked by what pollsters predicted would be a record-low turnout of just under 50 per cent.

The poll delivered a further crushing blow to the Socialist and conservative parties that had alternated in power for decades until Macron's election in May blew apart the left-right divide.

Looking ahead, winning of Macron's party in the parliament undoubtedly will ensure the efficiency and fast pushing ahead of Macron's reform if his party and its ally can finally secure it.

Les Republicains election chief Francois Baroin appealed to middle-class and rural voters to choose his party in the second round, saying it would safeguard them against tax rises or cuts to public services in the countryside.

  • Leroy Wright