Mon, Jun 12, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Macron faces test in first parliamentary polls


French President Emmanuel Macron, center, yesterday leaves his home in Le Touquet as French voters went to the polls for the first round of parliamentary elections.

Photo: AFP

French voters were yesterday were choosing lawmakers in the lower house of parliament in a vote that is crucial for newly elected President Emmanuel Macron.

A total of 7,882 candidates were running for 577 seats in the National Assembly in yesterday’s first round of the two-stage legislative elections. Top vote-getters advance to the decisive second round on next Sunday.

Opinion 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.

Macron’s year-old centrist movement, Republic on the Move, is seeking an absolute majority to be able to implement his campaign promises, which include simplifying labor rules and making it easier to lay off workers in hopes of boosting hiring.

The government outlined the main themes of a major labor reform that has already angered French unions and is likely to prompt tensions over the summer.

Macron also plans to quickly pass a law to strengthen security measures — effectively making the state of emergency permanent, after multiple Muslim extremist attacks in France — and another one that he says will put more ethics into French politics.

A minimum of 289 seats is required to secure an absolute majority.

According to the latest opinion polls, Macron’s movement appears in a position to win potentially as many as 400 seats.

The candidates of Republic on the Move include many newcomers in politics, like a retired bullfighter, a fighter pilot and a mathematical genius. Half of the candidates are women.

Candidates from the conservative Republicans party are expected to arrive in second position, and other parties with possibly more than 100 seats.

The Socialists, who dominated the last assembly, are expected to suffer a stinging defeat and win just a few dozen seats.

In the wake of far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen’s qualification for the presidential runoff, the National Front is expected to get its highest-ever score, but does not appear able to become the major opposition force she had hoped for.

Polls project it could win about a dozen seats, in part because of a voting system that favors the biggest parties.

Parisian voter Thibault Gouache says he is keen to see fresh faces in the parliament.

“The most important thing is changing the people that do politics,” he said.

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