France votes in final round of parliamentary elections

In the first round of French legislative elections held on June 11, Macron's REM party led with 28.2 percent of the votes cast, while the previously ruling Socialist Party received 7.44 percent.

His party and its allies are tipped to win 400-470 seats in the 577-strong parliament.

Turnout in the second round is seen falling to 47 percent from 48.71 percent a week earlier, a level that was already a record low in the Fifth Republic.

A vote to approve the appointment of Prime Minister Édouard Philippe is expected about a week later.

In the first round, the abstention rate hit a almost 60-year high of 51.3 percent and is forecast to rise to 53-54 percent in the run-off, much higher than the 44.6 percent in the last election five years ago. Also controversial is his move to strengthen anti-terror legislation, which has concerned human rights groups, but which he believes is necessary following the terror attacks, perpetrated by lone wolves or in a coordinated manner, which have taken place in France in the past couple of years. They include a mathematician, a bullfighter and a former Rwandan orphan.

"We've shot down everything that represented the system before and we're trying something else", said historian Didier Maus, who sits on France's Constitutional Council.

La REM is barely more than a year old and as many as three-quarters of MPs are likely to be political novices, something which will change the face of parliament at the expense of the conservative and social-democratic parties which have ruled France for decades.

The Socialist party is considering selling its headquarters in one of the most expensive areas of Paris to compensate for the huge fall in donations and public subsidies linked to its rout.

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This would give REM one of the largest parliamentary majorities in post-war France.

Macron would also be able to push through his liberalizing reforms that are opposed by both parties on the left and the far-right National Front.

Far-left ex-presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is voting in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, where he is seeking a seat as well.

"There might be a correction", said Emmanuel Riviere from the Kantar Sofres polling group. "How can you imagine that the population, half of which didn't go to vote. agrees to the directives that are the result of this situation?"

"The stakes of the second round are clear", ex-prime minister and party grandee Alain Juppe said then, urging voters to get behind the opposition.

One of Mr Macron's biggest ambitions is to reform France's labour laws to reduce unemployment from its current rate of 10 per cent.

A so-called super-majority for Macron's party will nearly certainly be well received by the markets as it will give Macron the mandate to deliver his Presidential election promises to loosen France's employment laws, overhaul its social security system and recommit to the European Union.

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