Macron's party wins clear parliamentary majority

Frederick Owens
June 19, 2017

Macron fulfilled his wish to disrupt politics as usual with new faces - including a farmer, a teacher and a math genius - and a new approach.

His party dominated France's traditional parties, the rightwing Republicans and Socialists, but also the far-right National Front (FN) of defeated presidential candidate Marine Le Pen which fell far short of its target. She said although Macon now has a majority in parliament, his ideas are a "minority" and said the Front National will fight his reform plans.

A minor reshuffle of the Cabinet, an obligatory move after parliamentary elections, is expected this week, perhaps as soon as Monday.

Projections indicate the 39-year-old's centrist movement will win as many as 403 seats out of the 577 up for grabs in the national assembly. Official partial results confirmed the trend, showing them with 327 seats, with 33 seats yet to be counted.

The scale of LREM's projected win means Macron will enjoy an absolute majority even without the support of alliance partner Francois Bayrou and Modem, lending him a freer hand for reforms and room for a government reshuffle should he choose to carry one out.

Mainstream conservatives and their allies, the closest rivals, held their ground better than expected.

Former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls narrowly retained his seat after a dogfight with a hard-left candidate in the Paris suburbs who demanded a recount amid noisy protests.

The Socialists were the biggest losers, punished for the high unemployment, social unrest and lost national confidence that marked their five years in power. After Macron won the presidency, defeating Le Pen, his budding political movement, En Marche!, now renamed La République en Marche (Republic on the Move), went on to secure an unprecedented landslide victory in the first round of legislative elections last week. Britain set its own record in elections on June 8, with 30 percent of parliamentary seats going to women.

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"Normally political parties allocate women seats that are nearly impossible to win, so they can say 'hey, we have as many female candidates as male, ' but at the end of the day they never end up winning", added Poirson, who has no prior parliamentary experience but has master's degrees in political science from both Harvard and the London School of Economics.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who will be another formidable opponent in the parliament after winning a seat from the southern port of Marseille, said voters had gone on "civic general strike" by not voting in the parliamentary polls.

Voters overall showed little enthusiasm for the election, which could see record low turnout.

According to the Interior Ministry, turnout at 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) in Paris was very low - only 35.33 percent.

Experts partly blamed voter fatigue following the May 7 election of Macron, plus voter disappointment with politics.

Confusion also played a role, according to Frederic Dabi of the IFOP polling firm.

Poirson made a decision to become a candidate in January when Macron sent a video to party members urging more women to put themselves forward.

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