France votes as Macron faces tough battle for control of parliament

  • Voting predictions are expected at 1800 GMT
  • Macron needs 289 seats for an absolute majority in Parliament
  • Opinion polls say it may fail to make gains from smaller parties
  • One minister has already been removed in the overseas vote

PARIS (Reuters) – Elections in France took place on Sunday in a parliamentary election that could deprive newly re-elected centrist President Emmanuel Macron of the absolute majority he needs to rule freely.

Initial forecasts were expected at 8 pm (1800 GMT) of an election that could change the face of French politics.

The turnout by midday was slightly stronger – at 18.99% – than it was at the same time during the first round of voting last Sunday compared to 2017, when it was 18.43% and 17.75%, respectively.

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Macron won a second term in April’s presidential election. If Sunday’s vote does not give his camp an absolute majority, it will open a period of uncertainty that could be resolved with a degree of power-sharing between parties unheard of in France over the past decades – or lead to political paralysis and repeat parliamentary elections. Line. Read more

Opinion polls predict Macron’s camp will end up with the most seats, but they say it is by no means guaranteed to reach the 289th threshold for an absolute majority.

Opinion polls also suggest that the far right is likely to achieve its biggest parliamentary success in decades, while the broad Left-Green coalition could become the largest opposition group and conservatives find themselves kingmakers.

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And in the town of Sevres just outside Paris, where light rain offered some relief after a severe heat wave hit France on Saturday, some voters said they were motivated by environmental concerns to cast their ballots for the left-wing Nobis coalition.

“For the past five years, the presidential majority has not been able to meet the challenges of climate change – the current heat wave is making you want to support environmental projects more,” Leonard Duques, 21, a film student, told Reuters. .

Others said they did not trust controversial left-wing bloc leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who campaigned under the slogan “elect me prime minister” and who promised to lower the retirement age to 60 from 62, freeze prices and prevent companies from firing workers if they pay dividends.

“Melenchon is a hypocrite. He makes promises that don’t hold. Retirement at 60 is impossible,” said Brigitte Derez, 83, a retired dance teacher who voted for Macron’s party.

Overnight, the results of the French foreign administrations brought bad news to Macron, as he lost his Minister of Maritime Affairs to her Caribbean constituency. About 15 ministers are running for this election, and Macron said they would have to resign if they lost.

Renovated to the left

Macron is seeking to raise the retirement age, pursue his pro-business agenda and promote EU integration.

After electing a president, French voters traditionally used legislative opinion polls a few weeks later to give him a comfortable parliamentary majority Рand Fran̤ois Mitterrand in 1988 was a rare exception.

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Macron and his allies can still make it happen.

But the resurgent left presents a daunting challenge, as inflation puts the cost of living high on the minds of many voters.

If Macron and his allies lose an absolute majority by just a few seats, officials in those parties said, they may be tempted to snap up center-right or Conservative MPs.

If they missed it by a wider margin, they could either seek an alliance with the Conservatives or run a minority government that would have to negotiate laws with the other parties on a case-by-case basis.

Even if Macron’s camp wins an outright majority, it is likely thanks to his former prime minister, Edouard Philippe, who will demand a greater say in what the government is doing.

However, as Sunday’s vote goes, the president will likely enter a new period of having to make more concessions, after five years of undisputed control since he was first elected in 2017.

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Additional reporting by Michelle Rose

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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