Emmanuel Macron wins strong parliamentary majority in French elections



French President Emmanuel Macron arrives to vote at a polling station in the second round parliamentary elections in Le Touquet, France, June 18, 2017.
French
President Emmanuel Macron arrives to vote at a polling station in
the second round parliamentary elections in Le Touquet, France,
June 18, 2017.


REUTERS/Christophe
Archambault/Pool



President Emmanuel Macron won a commanding majority in France’s
parliamentary election on Sunday, sweeping aside traditional
parties and securing a powerful mandate for pro-business reforms.

The result, based on official figures and pollster projections,
redraws France’s political landscape, humiliating the Socialist
and conservative parties that alternated in power for decades
until Macron’s election in May.

Three pollsters projected that Macron’s Republic on the Move and
its Modem allies would win 355 to 365 seats in the 577-seat lower
house, fewer than previously forecast.

They predicted the conservative Republicans and their allies
would form the largest opposition bloc with 125 to 131 seats,
while the Socialist Party, in power for the past five years, and
its partners would secure 41 to 49 seats, their lowest ever in
the postwar Fifth Republic.

Official figures with 90 seats still left to be decided showed
LREM had already won its majority.

“This is an opportunity for France. One year ago no one would
have imagined such a political renewal,” Prime Minister Edouard
Philippe said in a statement.

Voter turnout was projected to be a record low at about 42%. The
high abstention rate underlines that Macron will have to tread
carefully with reforms in a country with muscular trade unions
and a history of street protests that have forced many a past
government to dilute new legislation.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said it signalled voters
“had not wanted to hand Macron a blank cheque.”

Nevertheless, the scale of victory gives the president, a
pro-European Union centrist, a strong platform from which to make
good on campaign promises to revive France’s fortunes by cleaning
up politics and relaxing regulations that investors say shackle
the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

‘The collapse of the Socialist Party is beyond doubt’

Victory for Macron, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon,
marks the routing of the old political class.

Having never held elected office, he seized on the growing
resentment toward a political elite perceived as out of touch,
and on public frustration at its failure to create jobs and spur
stronger growth, to win the presidency.

His year-old party then filled the political space created by the
disarray within the Socialist Party and the Republicans, with
Sunday night capping a sequence of events that a year ago looked
improbable.

“Tonight, the collapse of the Socialist Party is beyond doubt.
The president of the Republic has all the powers,”
Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said after announcing he would step
down as Socialist Party chief.


Marine Le Pen, former French presidential election candidate for the far-right National Front (FN) party, poses prior to an interview on prime time news broadcast of French TV channel TF1, in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, May 18, 2017.
Marine
Le Pen won a parliamentary seat for the first time in the
election.


REUTERS/Francois
Guillot/Pool



He said the party would have to rebuild itself from the top down.
Cambadelis was knocked out of the running for parliament in last
week’s first round of voting.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen won a seat in the National
Assembly for the first time. Her National Front party clinched at
least eight seats in total, a result she celebrated but which may
disappoint supporters who a month ago dreamed of entering the
Elysee.

“We are the only force of resistance to the dilution of France,
its social model and identity,” Le Pen said in a televised
address in her northern fiefdom of Henin-Beaumont.

“We shall fight with all our strength the harmful projects of the
government, which is only in place to implement the road map sent
by Brussels.”

Francois Baroin, who led the Republicans’ campaign, said the
conservatives would emphasize their differences with Macron,
especially on taxes.

‘Not a foot of ground will be given up in the labour law
struggle’

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. Modem currently has two ministers in the Cabinet.


Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate of the French far-left Parti de Gauche and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, leaves after speaking to supporters after the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Paris, France, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Far-left
leader Jean-Luc Melenchon.


REUTERS/Stephane
Mahe



Macron’s rivals went into the second round trying only to limit
the scale of the newcomer’s win. They urged voters not to allow
too much power to be concentrated in the hands of one party and
warned Macron’s MPs would be mere yes-men who would rubber-stamp
legislation.

It appeared the message had some impact. Opinion polls before the
vote had projected Macron could win as many as 470 seats.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won his Marseille seat,
promised “social resistance” to Macron’s reform agenda and said
the high abstention rate meant the president lacked the
legitimacy to destroy the labour code.

Melenchon’s resurgent France Unbowed and the Communist Party were
on course to win 26 to 30 seats. In a combative speech, which
contrasted sharply with the defeated tone of the Socialist Party,
Melenchon reached out to disappointed left-wingers.

“It is France Unbowed which will call the country, when the
moment comes, to social resistance,” Melenchon said. “I hereby
inform the new powers that not a foot of ground will be given up
in the labour law struggle.”

(Additional reporting by Paris newsroom; Writing by Richard
Lough; Editing by Susan Fenton and Peter Cooney)

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