French President Emmanuel Macron’s party took a big lead in the first round of parliamentary elections Sunday. Early results showed Macron’s newly formed centrist party would win about 33 percent of the vote, possibly translating to more than 400 seats for La République En Marche (LREM). It was again another blow to establishment parties, and it means Macron will likely have the majority in France’s National Assembly he needs to bring about the economic reforms voters elected him on.
Turnout in the election was about 40 percent at 5 p.m. local time, much less than the 2012 election. And pollsters said it could be a record low. French voters often give the president an outright majority, as was the case in the past three elections. But Macron’s party is not even a year old, and there was doubt voters would do so again, especially in a political climate so divided.
Poll projections put the conservative party, The Republicans, at about 21 percent, which would make them the primary opposition force with more than 80 seats. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front won 13 percent, which pollsters said would fetch between one and 10 seats, a massive disappointment for the former presidential candidate. France Unbowed won 11 percent. And the Socialist party and its group of leftist allies won about 9 percent.
This is the first of two rounds in which voters select 577 members for the National Assembly on five-year terms. It’s the lower house of Parliament, and considered the more powerful. Macron ran on a platform focused on the economy, and promised to assuage France’s 10-percent unemployment. He plans to do this by overhauling labor laws—a strategy that’s upset unions—making it easier to hire and fire employees, and to invest in renewable energy. He needs a majority in Parliament to do this.