Emmanuel Macron's party wins big in France, projections suggest

French voters have put President Emmanuel Macron's party on course for a crushing parliamentary majority, though a record low turnout in the first round of voting raised concerns Monday over the strength of his future mandate. Interior Ministry data showed 40.75 per cent of registered voters had cast ballots by mid-afternoon, well below the 48.31 per cent at the same time in the 2012 election.

Although Macron's party is projected to win big in the end, many of its candidates didn't get enough votes to win spots outright in the first round.

The first round of French legislative elections yielded a stunning victory for La République En Marche, a centrist political movement founded just over a year ago by the newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron. If the results are confirmed, a victory for LREM would be another blow to the country's mainstream Socialist and conservative parties already reeling from Macron's presidential election victory last month. If not, all candidates who earn at least 12.5 percent of vote will go into the second round June 18, where the victor takes the seat.

Polls suggest the elections will strongly favor Macron's party and dramatically shake up French politics, punishing the traditional left and right parties and leaving no single strong opposition force.

The run-offs take place next Sunday when the final results will be known.

Jean-Yves Camus, a researcher who specialises in the far-right, said turnout at parliamentary elections among the party's core working class support base was traditionally low and an obstacle the party had once again failed to surmount.

Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe, who was appointed by Mr Macron last month, announced "France is back" as the results rolled in.

The centre-right Republicans had just under 16%, while the Socialists, previously France's ruling party, had won just 7.4%.

Mr. Macron, who had never held elected office before becoming President, fielded political novices in around 200 constituencies -- part of his bid to rejuvenate the assembly.

Le Pen's National Front had an even more dismal result, between 3-10 MPs, meaning that once again it won't have a group in the National Assembly.

Pollsters Kantar Public-onepoint predicted that LREM and its centrist allies would take 400 to 440 of the assembly's 577 seats after next Sunday's second round of run-off votes.

Le Pen has her hopes set on winning a first-ever seat in Parliament in second-round voting despite the dramatic fall of her National Front party.

Francois Baroin, who led the campaign of the conservative Republicans, projected to win 80-100 seats, echoed the sentiment.

Her defeat in May brought huge relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain's Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election as USA president, and disappointment to the party faithful.

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 most important thing is changing the people that do politics", he said.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round, all candidates who secure at least 12.5 percent will go into the second-round runoff on June 18.

  • Leroy Wright