The French president Emmanuel Macron’s new centrist party looks set to take an overwhelming majority in parliament after the first round of elections held on Sunday. Official final results released early on Monday showed Macron’s one-year-old La République En Marche (Republic on the Move) and ally MoDem winning 32.32% in the first round, ahead of Les Républicains and its allies on 21.56% and the far-right Front National on 13.20%. The Socialist party – the party of Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande – took just 9.5% of the vote with its allies. The result was however marred by a record low voter turnout of just 49%.
Macron’s fledgling centrist movement could, with its centrist allies, go from zero to as many as 430 seats in the 577-seat French national assembly. This would be one of the biggest majorities in post-war France.
“France is back,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe declared as the news came through. “For the past month, the president has shown confidence, willingness and daring in France and on the international stage. He called the result a vindication of Macron’s “winning strategy”.
Macron needs a solid parliamentary majority if he is to put in place his plans to loosen France’s extensive labour laws and change the French welfare system on pensions and unemployment benefits. His parliamentary candidates include a historic number of total newcomers to parliamentary politics, from an ex-bullfighter to a former fighter pilot, a mathematician and an anti-corruption magistrate as well as former local politicians – whose key campaign argument was “give the new president a chance”.