Emmanuel Macron’s extraordinary political journey continued in yesterday’s first round elections for France’s 577-member National Assembly. The new President’s République en Marche (REM) movement strolled to its predicted victory, winning 32 per cent of the votes – very much in line with the final opinion polls of the campaign. In next Sunday’s run-off ballot, REM is projected to win a crushing majority of between 400 and 450 seats. Significantly, REM and its liberal centrist MoDem allies finished first in a staggering 451 constituencies.
Macron’s day was marred, however, by the historically low turnout of just 49 per cent, the worst for a first round legislative election since the foundation of the Fifth Republic in 1958. This immediately led some of his opponents to question the legitimacy of the new Assembly as well as to renewed calls for more proportionality in French legislative elections.
The opposition was, however, clutching at straws in the wake of grim results for nearly all other parties. Together with their UDI allies, the centre-right Republicans (LR) finished 11 points behind Macron’s party on 21.5 per cent of the vote, a striking increase from the 4 point gap in the first round of the Presidential election less than two months ago. Their joint parliamentary group is likely to be much reduced in size from 226 to between 70 and 110.
There was bad news for Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN), who pulled in just 13 per cent, somewhat below the final opinion polling. The FN now has no chance of achieving its goal of a much-expanded group of deputies and is forecast to win less than 10 seats next Sunday.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s leftist France Insoumise (FI) movement saw its score plummet from 19 per cent in the Presidential vote to just 11 per cent, although there was personal celebration for Mélenchon after eliminating the sitting Socialist deputy in the Marseille constituency he has decided to contest.
Perhaps the worst result belonged to the outgoing majority party, the Socialists (PS). A long list of former ministers and party bosses who had served under President Francois Hollande were eliminated in the first round – most notably Presidential candidate Benoit Hamon and party chairman Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who just a few months ago threatened expulsion against PS politicians who had anything to do with Macron. The PS will be lucky to keep 30 seats, just one tenth of its outgoing total of 284.
According to the rather complex elimination rules, the low turnout means that all but one of next Sunday’s run-off contests will be two-horse races, compared to 34 ‘triangulaires’ in 2012. Voter participation is expected to fall even further. Just four candidates (two REM, one LR and one Independent Left) managed to breach the 50 per cent threshold and win election on the first round.
FRANCE 11 June 2017
National Assembly, first round (%)
La République En Marche (REM) 6,390,797 or 28.21%
MoDem (MDM) 932, 229 or 4.11%
Les Républicains (LR) 3,573,366 or 15.77%
Union des Démocrates et Indépendants (UDI) 687,219 or 3.03%
Divers Droite (DVD) 625,391 or 2.76%
Front National (FN) 2,990,592 or 13.20%
France Insoumise (FI) 2,497,661 or 11.02%
Parti Socialiste (PS) 1,685,773 or 7.44%
Parti Radical de Gauche (PRG) 106,287 or 0.47%
Ecologiste (EELV) 973,739 or 4.30%
Divers Gauche (DVG) 362,328 or 1.60%
Parti Communiste Francais (PCF) 615, 503 or 2.72%
Debout La France (DLF) 265,433 or 1.17%
Others 948,242 or 4.18%
includes independents, regionalists, extreme left and right
‘Blancs’ 354,391 or 1.53%
‘Nuls’ 161,263 or 0.70%
Eligible voters 47,571,350
Turnout 48.71% (2012: 57.22%)
Source: Ministry of the Interior, France
(number of constituencies)
REM/MoDem 451 (399, 52)
LR/UDI/DVD 67 (51,11,5)
Source: Le Figaro
Most common 2nd round run-off contests
(by number of constituencies)
REM/MoDem vs. LR/UDI/DVD 241
REM/MoDem vs. FN 98
REM/MoDem vs. FI 61
REM/MoDem vs. PS/DVG 55
Source: Le Parisien. Mainland France only.
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