Emmanuel Macron's party looks set for big parliamentary win
France's prime minister declared victory for President Emmanuel Macron's new centrist party last night in the first round of parliamentary elections set to reshape French politics.
Saying “France is back,” prime minister Edouard Philippe pledged to move ahead quickly with bold reforms to French worker protections and security policy.
Mr Philippe said voters sent a “message without ambiguity” in the first round elections that they want a parliament with a “new face”. Macron’s En Marche party is projected to win a strong majority in the second round on 18 June .
His party’s candidates include many newcomers to politics, including a retired bullfighter, a fighter pilot and a mathematical genius. Half of them are women. The prime minister also thanked security services for protecting voting stations and ensuring a safe vote after a string of deadly extremist attacks.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen lamented “catastrophic” low turnout in the first round of voting.
Runner-up in France’s presidential election, Ms Le Pen urged “patriotic” voters to turn out en masse in the second round on 18 June and boost her party’s small presence in the National Assembly.
She hopes to be a strong opposition force, but her party is only projected to hold about a dozen seats.
She also slammed the electoral system as unfavourable to smaller parties like hers.
The head of the conservative Republicans party, Francois Baroin, also urged voters to turn out in larger numbers next week to help ensure that Mr Macron’s party faces a robust opposition.
French government junior minister Mounir Mahjoubi said voters want to give a large majority to the new president following partial results showing his new centrist party is clearly leading the first round of France’s parliamentary elections.
Mounir Mahjoubi, junior minister in charge of digital affairs, said on BFM television that voters have acknowledged that the first weeks of Mr Macron’s presidency “have been exemplary” and “have allowed the French to see there is a path that suits them”.
Mr Mahjoubi himself is running for a seat in Paris as a candidate with Mr Macron’s party.
With 46 per cent of votes counted from yesterday’s balloting, the interior ministry said En Marche had more than 26 per cent of votes.
The conservative Republicans had 16 per cent, the far-right National Front 14 per cent, the far-left party of Jean-Luc Melenchon had 10 per cent and the Socialists – who dominated the outgoing National Assembly – with just seven per cent.
Polling agencies project that Mr Macron’s party will win a large majority in the second round.
Parisian voter Thibault Gouache said he was keen to see fresh faces in the parliament.
“The most important thing is changing the people that do politics,” he said.
He added that many candidates for other parties have already served multiple terms and “are disconnected to the reality of what we live on a day by day basis”.
To win in the first round, candidates need an absolute majority and support from at least a quarter of the district’s registered voters.
Otherwise, all contenders who get at least 12.5 per cent of the votes of registered voters advance to the second round.
An absolute majority for Mr Macron’s party would enable him to implement campaign promises to simplify labour rules and make it easier to lay off workers in hopes of boosting hiring.
Mr Macron also plans to quickly pass a law to strengthen security measures – effectively making the state of emergency permanent and another one that he says will put more ethics into French politics.