French President, Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party is likely to win a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, two polling companies said after the first round of voting ended on Sunday night.
La Republique en Marche (The Republic on the Move, LREM) and allies, with an estimated 32.9 per cent of the vote, is expected to take between 400 and 440 of the assembly’s 577 seats in next week’s second round, according to a Kantar Public-onepoint forecast based on partial results.
The result should enable Macron to win approval for his government line-up and push his liberalizing programme through parliament despite expected opposition from the left.
The election was marked by what pollsters predicted would be a record-low turnout of just under 50 per cent.
The vote comes just over a month after 39-year-old Macron became the youngest-ever president of France, beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen by 66 per cent to 34 per cent in a run-off vote.
Le Pen’s National Front had a disappointing day, taking just 13.5 per cent of the vote, according to the Kantar Public-onepoint projection.
The pollsters predicted the National Front would win only two to five seats – short of the 15 needed to form a parliamentary group.
The main opposition party is likely to be the centre-right Les Republicains, which with its allies came second on 21 per cent and is predicted to take between 95 and 132 seats, Kantar Public-onepoint said.
Macron had thrown Les Republicains off balance by nominating two high-profile party members, Edouard Philippe and Bruno Le Maire, as his prime minister and economy minister.
Leading centre-right figures have disputed whether the party should offer support to Macron’s programme or fight to effectively wrest power from him by winning a parliamentary majority.
The election’s biggest loser, however, was the Socialist Party of Macron’s predecessor as president, Francois Hollande.
The Socialists and their centre-left allies took only 9.7 per cent of the vote and are likely to take 15-25 seats, down from their majority of 292 in the last parliament, according to Kantar Public-onepoint.
Official results of the first round will be released by the Interior Ministry as they are counted.
Candidates who win a majority in their constituency will be elected on the first round, as long as they have the votes of at least 25 per cent of registered electors.
In other constituencies, the top two candidates and any other candidates with the backing of at least one in eight registered voters will go through to next Sunday’s decisive run-off vote.