Merkel congratulates Macron, calls election result "strong vote for reforms"

Andrew Cummings
June 12, 2017

Election officials on June 12 said that with almost all ballots counted, Macron's Republique en Marche party (Republic on the Move) had 28 percent of the vote in an election marked by a historically low turnout. With all first round votes counted, just over 28 percent went to Macron's party.

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.

"I think people don't realize how important these elections are", said Pamela Guillou, who voted in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont, where far-right leader Marine Le Pen was hoping to win a legislative seat for the first time.

French President Emmanuel Macron and wife Brigitte vote in parliamentary elections in Le Touquet. The first round for the most part eliminates candidates who have gathered less than 12.5 per cent of registered voters.

She hopes to be a strong opposition force, but her party is only projected to hold about a dozen seats.

Having an absolute majority in the National Assembly, France's lower and more powerful house of parliament, will allow Macron to govern more at ease during his five-year term.

"This catastrophic abstention rate should raise the question of the voting rules which keep millions of our compatriots away from the polling stations", the 48-year-old said.

"We shouldn't have a monopolistic party", said former French prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve, a Socialist. All 577 seats are up for grabs, and each victor will serve a five-year term.

Voter rejection of old-style, established politics - already seen in the April-May two-round presidential vote that handed power to 39-year-old Macron - was again felt in the legislative vote. It now has two seats and was hoping to win at least 15, the amount needed to form a parliamentary group.

To win a seat in the first round of voting, candidates had to win more than half of the votes, which must account for at least a quarter of the registered voters.

Macron had to build a party from scratch after winning the presidential election in May.

The government has announced legislation to clean up corruption and nepotism in politics, a major reform of worker protections, a bill to extend the state of emergency until November and another one to introduce permanent security measures.

They include tech entrepreneur Bruno Bonnell, who campaigned by sticking photos of him and Mr Macron on the side of a rented van in Villeurbanne, eastern France.

Pollsters forecast the Republicans would win 20.9 percent, the FN 13.1 percent, and the Socialists with a grouping of left-wing parties 9 percent.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in a strong fourth place in the presidential vote with almost 20 per cent support, is running for a parliamentary seat in the southern city of Marseille.

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