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Low turnout but big majority ahead for Macron

26 Juin 2017

LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Prospects of victory for French President Emmanuel Macron's fledgling party and a setback for Italy's populist 5-Star Movement soothed political worries in euro zone debt markets on Monday, sending yields to multi-month lows.

Le Pen's National Front had an even more dismal result, between 3-10 MPs, meaning that once again it won't have a group in the National Assembly.

Nevertheless, voter turnout has hit a historic low with abstention in the first round reaching 51.6 percent, according to French Interior Ministry data.

After being sworn in, Macron immediately started up his "New Deal" at home, from reform on labor law to the establishment of anti-terrorism center, and the enactment of new anti-corruption rules, all of which caught the hearts of French people and impressed them with pragmatic reforms.

The lion's share of the vote, as expected, went to the new centrist party of 39-year-old President Emmanuel Macron, Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move, REM), which could win as many as 445 seats. Since then, it won the presidency, updated its name to Republic on the Move and is now dominating parliamentary elections. The National Front of far-right leader Marine Le Pen seemingly failed to convert her strong showing in the presidential election into a large number of legislative seats.

Le Pen, herself in a commanding position to be elected to the national parliament for the first time after winning 46 percent of first round votes, put on a courageous face, urging voters not to abstain next week.

"Emmanuel Macron is set to pull off the most spectacular grand slam of the Fifth Republic", wrote Laurent Joffrin of the left-leaning Liberation daily.

He added that many candidates for other parties have already served multiple terms and "are disconnected to the reality of what we live on a day by day basis".

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Polls suggest the elections will strongly favor Macron's party and dramatically shake up French politics, punishing the traditional left and right parties and leaving no single strong opposition force.

The party's election chief, Francois Baroin, appealed to middle-class voters and rural voters to choose his party in the second round, saying it would safeguard them against tax rises or cuts to public services in the countryside.

The right-wing Republican party, which only at the start of this year had seemed on course to win the Presidency under Francois Fillon, will be nearly certainly be the main opposition, with between 70 and 110 seats according to Ipsos projections.

Pollsters forecast the Republicans would win 20.9 percent, the FN 13.1 percent, and the Socialists with a grouping of left-wing parties 9 percent. Macron, who has long promised a "renewal of political life", will have successfully persuaded voters to give him relatively free rein in the attempt.

But turnout was sharply down, at 48.7 per cent compared with 57.2 per cent in the first round in 2012, which analysts said reflected a sense of resignation among Macron's opponents.

Opinion polls showed Macrons wouldwin between 360 and 427 seats - easily a majority.

Pollsters projected a disastrous result Sunday for the Socialists that held power in the last parliament and that the conservative Republicans could end up with fewer than 130 seats.

Low turnout but big majority ahead for Macron