French President Emmanuel Macron’s party has won a clear parliamentary majority, results show, weeks after his own presidential victory.
The centrist party, La Republique En Marche, which was created a year ago, clinched 361 seats out of 577 in the National Assembly, giving it an absolute majority following the final round of the parliamentary elections in France.
Sunday’s election saw a record number of women – 223 versus a previous high of 155 – voted into parliament, due largely to Macron’s decision to field a gender-balanced candidate list.
The measly turnout reflected voters’ widespread disgust with the mainstream parties of right and left that have dominated French politics for decades, according to the report.
Marine Le Pen has said that whilst Macron may have won a large parliamentary majority, “he must know that his ideas are not of the majority in the country and that the French will not support a project that weakens our nation”.
Mr Macron’s party, which did not exist 14 months ago and offered novice candidates from civilian life, has drawn from left and right to fill its ranks, effectively blurring the traditional left-right political divide.
The conservative Republicans and their allies would form the largest opposition bloc, with 125 to 131 seats.
Last Saturday’s move came two weeks after President Emmanuel Macron criticised his United States counterpart, Mr Donald Trump, for pulling out of the United Nations’ Paris climate agreement – calling on U.S. climate scientists and entrepreneurs to “come and work in France on concrete solutions for climate”.
However, the winning margin is lower than some expected, with turnout at a record low of around 43%.
After five years of Socialist Party rule, in which former President Francois Hollande failed to meet his objectives of reducing unemployment and giving a boost to the flagging economy, the French were depressed and downbeat. Mr. Macron is likely to push for more European integration along with Germany’s Angela Merkel once the German election gets done with in September.
With its allies from MoDem centrist party, LREM is expected to be represented by 360 seats.
The result comes barely a year after Macron founded the party.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, a center-right politician who joined Macron’s movement, cast his ballot in the port of Le Havre.
France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, Mr Macron emerged from relative obscurity to score a thumping win in the presidential election in May.
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won his Marseille seat, promised “social resistance” to Macron’s reform agenda and said the high abstention rate meant the president lacked the legitimacy to destroy the labour code.
REM swept aside the rightwing Republicans and Socialists, but also the far-right National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen – whom he defeated in the presidential run-off – which fell far short of its target.
With legislative elections often following the presidentials, the same system has the effect of blocking parties on the edges of the political spectrum, and gives voters an incentive to opt for the sitting president’s candidate. Low turnout figures have led to the Socialists suffering a humiliating defeat, with the Front National vote in meltdown due to infighting following Le Pen’s presidential defeat in May.