Emmanuel Macron won his bet. His party, En Marche!, which did not exist a year ago, has is to obtain an absolute majority in the French parliament.
With the final result yet to be announced, the interior ministry said the President’s party had won 42 per cent of the vote, with polls predicting a conversion to between 355 and 425 seats out of 577 in the National Assembly.
“It’s not a political landslide but it’s balanced,” says Alexandra Laffitte, an En Marche! substitute candidate in the 9th district of Paris. Activists, like Nina Halimi, a 27-year-old law student, hailed victory in the second-round vote: “This is a very good result, when Macron was not long ago predicted that he would be unable to win a majority in the Assembly. It is a fair Assembly that respects democracy”.
Jonathan Kemma, a 28-year-old digital communication worker, said: “We have the majority to work and the opposition also exists, that’s good news”, convinced that if the majority had been too overwhelming, it would have been held against them .
However, the mood is not one of joyful celebration. Abstention reached an record of 56.6 per cent betraying a climate of fatigue and political disillusionment among the French people.
At the En Marche! party’s headquarters, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, there were no screams of joy and only subdued clapping to welcome the results broadcast on television screens.
The activists are few, being chased by journalists who snatch their statements as well as the few elected members present.
Catherine Barbaroux, who replaced Mr Macron as the leader of the party, spoke with chosen words: “lucidity, responsibility and humility”.
French Presidential Election
“The abstention rate reflects the work ahead of us”, she says. Political heads of En Marche! are not under any illusions – Sylvain Maillard, a 45-year-old businessman elected by an absolute majority from the first round in Paris admits that they won because they “are the president’s candidates”, adding: “The French have carried the project of Emmanuel Macron, we must not deceive them, they voted for us because they expect change.”
“Many Frenchmen have turned away from political life,” he adds, a sentiment realised in the historical abstention. To remedy it, “it is necessary to reform” he states.
Alexandra Laffitte, believes obtaining a majority of deputies is a huge responsibility for En Marche! “Our responsibility is enormous because many French people are disappointed,” she said. “We must now talk to all those who are fed up with it and who no longer want to listen to us.”
Activists all agree that they must get to work as quickly as possible. Ms Laffitte declares “we have to be effective, it is an important parliamentary group, completely new, which we will have to organise very quickly”.
France’s Prime Minister said voters have given a clear majority to Mr Macron and his government.
Macron set for landslide victory in French parliamentary elections
Edouard Philippe, a centre-right politician who has joined En Marche!, said “through their vote, a wide majority of the French have chosen hope over anger”.
The elections saw far-right leader Marine Le Pen win her first parliamentary seat. The far-right leader claimed she won around 58 per cent of the vote in Henin-Beaumont in northern France, adding that her far-right National Front has won at least six seats in the French parliament and is still waiting for other results.
Ms Le Pen said her party’s representatives will “fight with all necessary means the harmful projects of the government”, despite falling well short of its target of a 15-strong parliamentary group.
She said they will especially fight against what she called Mr Macron’s pro-European, pro-migrant policies.
The Conservative Republicains came a distant second while the head of the Socialist party quit after his party suffered a horrendous defeat.
Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said that “Emmanuel Macron’s triumph is uncontestable, the defeat of the left is unavoidable, and the defeat of the Socialist party is irrevocable”.
He added that the party needs to change its ideas and its organisation and that a “collective leadership” is going to replace him.
Additional reporting by AP