Left-wing coalition makes strong first record in French election

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Red-Green coalition put on a strong show in the first round of France’s legislative elections on Sunday, giving them the opportunity to challenge President Emmanuel Macron for control of the National Assembly after the round. Final vote next weekend.

An early screening from Ifop-Fiducial for broadcasters TF1 and LCI after polling stations closed said Alliance of Mélenchon – New Ecological and Social Popular Alliance (Nupes) – won an estimated 26.1% of the vote, compared with 25.6% for Macron’s Ensemble group.

However, Mélenchon’s success is unlikely to translate into a simple majority in the 577-seat parliament, because moderate voters are wary of his reputation as a far-left delegate, the Eurosceptic leader is expected. will regroup Macron’s side in the second round on June 19.

According to initial projections, Macron’s coalition would end up with between 275 and 310 seats, compared with 180-210 for Mélenchon. A party or coalition needs 289 seats for an outright majority.

Mélenchon urged voters to “raise” to the polls for a second round of voting next Sunday “to categorically reject Mr Macron’s disastrous plans” and have their say after “30 years of communism”. neoliberal”.

Each geographic constituency has its own constituency sandalsand in many cases, voters’ choice will be narrowed from about a dozen candidates in the first round to just two in the second round.

Ballot boxes from the first round of the French parliamentary elections

Ballot boxes from the first round of French parliamentary elections are emptied for the vote count in Strasbourg on Sunday © AP

Results, seven weeks later Macron defeats far-right leader Marine Le Pen and convincingly won a second term as president, marking the dramatic return of the remaining Frenchmen after five years of living in the political wilderness.

This unexpected return to the leadership of Mélenchon – a 70-year-old political veteran who finished third in the presidential election behind only Le Pen – could make it difficult for Macron to push through the legislative agenda he has set. will need to pursue its economic reforms. .

In 2017, after knocking out Socialist and centre-right opponents to win his first term as president, Macron has seen his candidates take full control of the National Assembly. Assembly in the legislative elections that followed.

This time, if his centre-right Ensemble coalition fails to secure a majority in Congress, the president will need to seek support from other parties to pass legislation, such as extending the retirement age from 62 to 65 for his proposed pension system reform. .

In the unlikely event that Mélenchon’s Nupes coalition wins a majority next week, Macron will remain in control of foreign and defense policy but will have to appoint a prime minister with the support of more than half of parliaments. member of parliament and “living together” with the government. hostile to his economic policies.

Together with citizens in other liberal democracies, including the United States, the French have in recent years increasingly distrusted and turned to nationalist and populist politicians for solutions.

Early indications are that more than half of French voters are reluctant to cast their ballots on Sunday, indicating a record low turnout of around 47.5% for this type of election.

French politics is now divided into three broad camps, with Macron and his allies at the centre, Le Pen leading the far-right anti-immigration nationalist faction, and Mélenchon leading his new left-wing coalition.

Le Pen’s National Rassemblement Party won about 19% of the vote on Sunday and is forecast to secure between 10 and 25 seats in Parliament, while conservative Les Républicains are awarded between 40 and 60 seats in the National Assembly. originally expected.

In the first round of the presidential election in April, nearly 60% of voters chose a candidate from the far right or the far left.

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