Mon, Jun 19, 2017 - Page 4 News List

French vote in second round of election

Reuters, PARIS

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, on Saturday rides a bicycle in the streets of Le Touquet, northern France.

Photo: AFP

French voters cast their ballots in the second round of a parliamentary election yesterday expected to hand French President Emmanuel Macron a landslide majority that should allow him to embark on deep social and economic reforms.

The vote comes just a month after the 39-year-old former banker became the youngest head of state in modern French history, promising to clean up French politics and revive the eurozone’s second-biggest economy.

However, turnout could touch record lows, in a sign of voter fatigue after seven months of campaigning and voting, but also of disillusionment and anger with politics that could eventually complicate Macron’s reform drive.

Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move party is barely more than one year old, yet pollsters project it would win as many as 75 to 80 percent of seats in the 577-seat lower house.

Macron cast his vote early in the morning in the seaside resort of Le Touquet before flying to a ceremony outside Paris to mark the anniversary of then-French president Charles de Gaulle’s 1940 appeal for French resistance to Nazi Germany’s occupation.

Polls show Macron is on course to win the biggest parliamentary majority since that held by de Gaulle’s own conservatives in 1968.

Many of Macron’s lawmakers will be political novices, something which will change the face of parliament at the expense of the conservative and socialist parties that have ruled France for decades.

One of the challenges for Macron as he sets out to overhaul labour rules, cut tens of thousands of public sector jobs and invest billions of public cash in areas including job training and renewable energy, will be to keep such a diverse and politically raw group of lawmakers united behind him.

“There has never been such a paradox between a high concentration of power and strong tensions and expectations in terms of changes,” Laurent Berger, head of France’s CFDT union, told the weekly Journal du Dimanche. “There is no place for euphoria in victory. There is no providential man, no miracle solution.”

Macron’s rivals have urged voters not to stay at home, warning power would be concentrated in the hands of one party and democratic debate stifled.

“Among Macron supporters the mood is very different, with an overwhelming feeling that the president needs to be given a strong enough majority to carry out the policies on which he was elected just over a month ago.

The election is set to send shockwaves through the older parties, with their unity and even survival, at stake.

The conservative Republicans are expected to be the biggest opposition group in parliament. However, polls see them securing no more than 90 to 95 seats out of 577.

The Socialist Party, which ruled France until last month, faces a humiliating defeat, which could see them with no more than 25-35 seats.

The election also spells trouble for the far-right National Front, seen with only between one and six seats when earlier it had hoped to secure a “massive” presence in parliament.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is expected to be among those who will be elected.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon is also seen winning a seat in parliament. However, polls are unclear if his France Unbowed party will reach the 15-member threshold required to be able to form a parliamentary group.

This story has been viewed 1254 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top