France polls: Macron's party wins clear parliamentary majority

Voters strongly backed the recently-elected president as they went to the polls in the second round of elections yesterday that will strengthen his mandate to carry out a programme of reforms.

With 75 percent of the votes counted Sunday night, the Interior Ministry says Macron's party has won 42 percent of the vote, followed by the conservative Republicans in a distant second with 22 percent.

Mr. Macron's party La République en Marche and its centrist ally Modem have secured 355 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, according to estimates from Ipsos Sopra Stéria based on partial results from across France.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen won a seat for the first time and her Front National was set for up to eight seats.

Le Pen's victory in the northern former coalmining town of Henin-Beaumont was a rare bright spot for her nationalist and anti-EU party that was once hoping to emerge as the principal opposition to Macron.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe described the outcome as an "opportunity for France", and said a year ago "no one would have imagined such a political renewal".

"We should not claim victory because we suffered quite a blow", said Collard, who won his seat by a mere 123 votes.

Francois Baroin, who led the Republicans' campaign, said the conservatives would emphasize their differences with Macron, especially on taxes.

Sunday's turnout of about 44 percent was the lowest ever for a French legislative election, and about 10 percentage points below the previous record, a reminder that nearly half of the vote in April's first round of the presidential election went to candidates opposed to the open borders and free markets of the European Union that Macron favors.

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Since Macron's Republic on the Move!

German government officials are celebrating the clear victory of President Emmanuel Macron's party in France's parliamentary election.

The party Macron founded just 16 months ago has re-drawn the French political map, although the winning score was considerably lower than the 470 seats predicted by some pre-vote surveys.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said it signaled voters "had not wanted to hand Macron a blank check".

Macron voters said they are less interested in his sometimes controversial platform - such as changing France's strict labor law that is considered a sacred cow - than the fact he is shaking things up.

She said her National Front party had won at least six seats - with not all votes counted - an increase from the two seats it held in the outgoing legislature. French voters are casting ballot.

Taking over from the Socialist government of Francois Hollande, Macron aims to make sweeping reforms to the French economy, including cutting tens of thousands of public-sector jobs, making it easier to hire and fire workers, and investing billions of euros into fields such as job training and renewable energy. The polarizing far-right, anti-immigrant National Front, headed by Marine Le Pen, was on track to win only a handful of seats.

At 43.4%, turnout was the lowest ever, seven percentage points less than in the first round and 10 percentage points less than the previous record low.

"Our people have entered a form of general civic strike, which demonstrates the state of exhaustion of institutions that pretend to organise society with a skimpy majority that has all the powers", radical left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Sunday.

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