Macron’s second term on line in parliamentary election

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New left-wing coalition NUPES is hoping to spring a surprise, with the red-green collective promising to block Macron’s agenda

France began voting Sunday in the final round of parliamentary elections, with centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition looking to hold off a challenge from a newly formed left-wing alliance.

At almost 19 percent by midday according to interior ministry figures, turnout was slightly higher than in last week’s first-round ballot, although forecasters suggest participation will remain below 50 percent by the time all polling stations close at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT).

Projections from polling firms suggest his “Together” coalition is on course to be the biggest party in the next National Assembly, but possibly short of the 289 seats needed for a majority.

“The vote is extremely open and it would be improper to say that things are settled one way or the other,” Melenchon told reporters Friday during a final campaign stop in Paris. 

Macron was left disappointed last weekend after the first round placed Together and NUPES neck-and-neck at around 26 percent.

“I really don’t believe we’ll get an overall majority,” one worried minister told AFP last week.

The election caps an intense two-month sequence to elect a new president and parliament, with voter fatigue seen as one of the reasons for what is expected to be record-low turnout Sunday.

– ‘French disorder?’ –

Senior MP Christophe Castaner has accused Melenchon of wanting a “Soviet revolution”, while Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire called him a “French Chavez” in reference to the late Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez. 

“Between the two rounds, I’ve found it really disappointing how some people have said unspeakable things about their opponents,” said 67-year-old Marie-Noelle at a polling station in Lyon.

“We need a solid majority to ensure order outside and inside our borders. Nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to global disorder,” Macron said.

Melenchon has promised a break from “30 years of neo-liberalism” — meaning free-market capitalism — and has pledged minimum wage and public spending hikes, as well as nationalisations.

– Turnout key – 

NUPES would secure around 140-200 seats, making them the biggest opposition force, while Le Pen’s National Rally was seen to get around 20-45 seats.

But after scoring 41.5 percent in the presidential election in April, Le Pen is still struggling to convert her huge national following into major representation in parliament.

The three polls — from Elabe, Ifop-Fiducial and Ipsos — suggested turnout Sunday would be 44-47 percent.

In France’s Caribbean island of Guadeloupe — where the poll is held a day early — Justine Benin was defeated by NUPES candidate Christian Baptiste Saturday, a loss that jeopardises her role in the government as Secretary of State for Sea.

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Originally published as Macron’s second term on line in parliamentary election


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