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Macron seeks majority in parliament vote as left mounts challenge

Composition of the outgoing French parliament, before legislative elections on June 12 and 19.

French voters cast their ballots Sunday in the first round of parliamentary elections where President Emmanuel Macron is hoping to win a majority to pursue his reformist agenda, against a resurgent and newly unified left seeking to thwart his ambitions.

Elections for the 577 seats in the lower-house National Assembly are a two-round process, with the shape of the new parliament becoming clear only after the second round on June 19.

After a dismal performance in April, the French left has united in a coalition for what its leader Jean-Luc Melenchon dubs “the third round” of the presidential elections.

– ‘Gardening instead’ –

At 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) turnout was 39.4 percent, according to an interior ministry estimate, down 1.3 points from the same point in the last parliamentary elections in 2017.

If the president’s alliance retains an overall majority, Macron will be able to carry on governing as before. 

A win by the left-wing alliance — seen as unlikely by analysts — would spell political disaster for the president by raising the spectre of a clunky “cohabitation” — where the prime minister and president hail from different factions.

Melenchon, a former Marxist, has already made clear his ambition to become prime minister and stymie Macron’s plan to raise the French retirement age, a key part of his reform plans.

Polls have indicated that Macron’s alliance is expected to win the largest number of seats but is by no means assured of getting over the line of 289 for an absolute majority.

While Macron and his European Union allies breathed a heavy sigh of relief after his solid, if unspectacular, presidential victory against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, the last weeks have brought no sense of a honeymoon.

His new Disabilities Minister Damien Abad has faced two rape accusations — which he has vehemently denied — while new Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has yet to make an impact.

Macron’s party and his allies currently hold an absolute majority of 345 seats in the 577-seat assembly.

Otherwise the top two candidates in a constituency, as well as any other candidate who won the backing of at least 12.5 percent of registered voters, go forward to the second round, where the candidate with the most votes wins.

Originally published as Macron seeks majority in parliament vote as left mounts challenge

Place of originMacron seeks majority in parliament vote as left mounts challenge

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