Macron's party wins clear parliamentary majority

French President Emmanuel Macron's party has won a clear parliamentary majorit, weeks after his own presidential victory

Emmanuel Macron casts his ballot in Le Touquet, northern France
Emmanuel Macron casts his ballot in Le Touquet, northern France

The French president Emmanuel Macron’s new centrist movement has won a large majority in the French parliament, according to the first official results on Sunday night.

With nearly all votes counted, his La République en Marche, alongside its smaller centrist ally Democratic Movement (MoDem), won more than 300 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. The party needed 289 seats to have an absolute majority in parliament.

The clear majority will hand the new president a relatively free rein to implement his plans to change French labour law, and overhaul unemployment benefits and pensions.

However, the winning margin is lower than some expected, with turnout at a record low of around 43%. Abstention was particularly high in low-income areas, reopening the debate about France’s social divide.

According to BBC correspondents, opponents of Macron may simply have not bothered to turn out.

Macron’s LREM didn’t do as well as polls had predicted and the Republicans in particular had support in the center and east of the country
Macron’s LREM didn’t do as well as polls had predicted and the Republicans in particular had support in the center and east of the country

The party was formed just over a year ago, and half of its candidates have little or no political experience.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged the low turnout, promising his party would act for France as a whole.

“Through this vote, the French people have showed they preferred hope to anger, optimism to pessimism, confidence to closing in on oneself,” he said, adding: “Abstention is never good news for democracy and the low turnout meant the government had “an ardent obligation to succeed.”

The conservative Republicans and their allies could form a large opposition block, with 125-131 seats, although this figure is down from 200 seats in the last parliament.

The Socialists, who were in power for the past five years, alongside their partners, looked set to get only 41-49 seats - their lowest tally ever.

President Emmanuel Macron’s party won about 360 out of 577 seats in France’s lower house
President Emmanuel Macron’s party won about 360 out of 577 seats in France’s lower house

Socialist leader Jean-Claude Cambadélis announced his retirement from the post, and urged the left "to change everything, its form and its substance, its ideas and its organisation".

The far-right National Front (FN) party won eight seats, but it had set its sights on 15.

FN leader Marine Le Pen, 48, has won a seat in parliament for the first time, representing Henin-Beaumont, a depressed former mining town in the north.

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