Philippe Wojazer | Reuters
French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards ! casts his ballot at a polling station during the the second round of 2017 French presidential election, in Le Touquet, France, May 7, 2017.
French voters head to the polls on Sunday for the first of two rounds of a parliamentary election expected to give new President Emmanuel Macron a solid majority that should allow him to carry out far-reaching reforms.
Just a month after the 39-year old ex-banker defied the odds to be elected to the head of the euro zone’s second-largest economy, opinion polls forecast his one-year old party will top voting this Sunday and win most seats in the June 18 run-off.
“We want a big majority to be able to act and transform France over the next five years,” Mounir Mahjoubi, a junior minister in Macron’s government, told Reuters as he was canvassing for support in the northern Paris constituency where he is a candidate.
The latest opinion polls forecast that Macron’s centrist Republic On the Move (LREM) party and its center-right Modem allies will get at least 30 percent of the votes on Sunday, with the conservative The Republicans and its allies at around 20 percent and the far-right National Front around 17 percent.
That outcome would transform into a landslide majority in the second round, opinion polls show.
While elections in the lower house of parliament’s 577 constituencies can be tricky to predict, especially with a total of 7,882 candidates vying for those seats, even LREM’s rivals have been saying they expect Macron to get a majority.
Their strategy over the past days has rather been to urge voters to make sure the opposition will be big enough to have some weight in parliament. “We shouldn’t have a monopolistic party,” ex-prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve, a Socialist, told Reuters.
The survival of the Socialist Party, which ruled France for the past five years but is forecast to get just between about 15 and 30 seats, is at stake, as is the unity of The Republicans, which poll second but are divided on whether to back Macron.
The National Front, reeling from a weaker-than-expected score for chief Marine Le Pen in the presidential election, could miss its target to get enough lawmakers to form a parliamentary group, though it is expected to do much better than the two deputies it had in the previous legislature.