PARIS – French citizens gave President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party an overwhelming victory during the second Parliament election on Sunday, according to exit polls, with the two traditional Right/Left parties suffering major defeats.Macron’s party received more than 355 of 577 seats, according to TF2 exit polls, while the right-wing Republican party got 101 seats and the Socialist party 34.Extreme-right National Front scored better than expected in recent polls, with eight seats in Parliament. According to Le Figaro, the centrists won 360 seats, the Republican party 133, the Socialist party 36 and National Front six seats.Voter participation was exceptionally low with only some 42% showing up at the polls, compared with 48.71% for the June 11 first round as many refused to support candidates of the traditional leftand right-wing parties, visà- vis the tsunami of popular support for Macron’s Republique En March (REM) list.Results of the first Parliament round predicted between 400 and 440 seats for Macron’s party, or total control of Parliament, forcing Macron’s rivals to focus their second-round campaigns on warning voters against handing Macron too much control of governing institutions.Judging by the results, French voters took these warnings to heart, at least in part, leaving REM with a lesser vote count than expected after the first round.Still, prevailing sentiment among many on Sunday was that the newly elected president must receive a solid majority to implement the many reforms on which he campaigned.In many regions, voters opted for new, very young candidates, including a 24 year old, who are largely unknown and politically untested. With a majority of 355-360 seats, Macron will be able to advance new legislation easily.
National Front head Marine Le Pen defeated on Sunday her rival by a large majority, while her No. 2 Florian Fillipot lost in his home region. Although the party substantially increased its seats from the two it holds in the current parliament, it is still a far cry from the 15 needed to constitute a separate parliamentary group.Macron’s victory aside, April-May presidential elections marked unprecedented support in France of the National Front, with Le Pen beating traditional rightwing and left-wing candidates on her way to the second presidential round.Marion Maréchal Le Pen, Marine Le Pen’s niece and one of the party’s two representatives in Parliament, announced immediately after the presidential defeat that she was taking time off from politics, and did not present herself as a candidate this time around.For the National Front, the fact that Maréchal Le Pen stepped back boded negatively for the Parliamentary campaign. A member of the party told The Jerusalem Post the young Parliamentarian did not want to be tainted by a failing campaign.“She will probably reappear when all this will be over. She might even offer ‘to save the party’ instead of her aunt.”
In victory speech, Macron pledges to serve France with "humility and love" (credit: REUTERS)