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France votes whether or not to restore a majority to President Macron

Despite the stakes, abstention was expected to be particularly high in the first round with a midday turnout of 18.43% of the more than 48 million registered voters, still down compared to 2017, legislative elections which ended the day with a historic low since 1958 of 48.7%.

Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. and will close at 6 p.m. with the exception of major cities including Paris, where the deadline has been extended until 8 p.m., when the first estimates from polling institutes are expected. The second round will take place in a week, on June 19.

According to the latest polls of voting intentions published on Friday, the presidential coalition is neck and neck with the alliance of left-wing parties grouped behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third in the presidential election.

The far-right party of Marine Le Pen, finalist in the presidential election on April 24, would come in third position, far ahead of the traditional right, which could lose its status as the leading opposition group.

French President Emmanuel Macron casts his vote during the first round of legislative elections in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage.

Photo: Reuters

These legislative elections should thus confirm the broad recomposition of the French political landscape initiated with the election of Mr. Macron in 2017.

The projections in number of seats, which are more uncertain, on the other hand give an advantage to the presidential coalition, but with a probability of obtaining an absolute majority – 289 deputies out of 577 – globally declining over the course of the latest opinion polls, as well as interest shown by voters.

In Saint-Sulpice-la-Forêt (Brittany, West), Arnaud Davy, 61, who vote in all electionsfinds less enthusiasm than for the presidential election, people talk about it less.

For Mauricette, 73, who was one of the first voters in Pantin, in the Paris suburbs, we are living in a somewhat complicated period, a fortiori it is even more important to show up going to the polls.

Mr. Macron mobilized at the end of the campaign, calling on the French to give him a strong and clear majority. He stood as a bulwark against the extremestargeting the radical left of Mr. Mélenchon and the extreme right of Marine Le Pen, synonymous according to him with disorder for France.

A majority, not absolute, but relative, would complicate the path of the reforms he wishes to undertake for his second term, on pensions in particular.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon after voting in Marseille, southern France.

Photo: Associated Press/Daniel Cole

In the less probable hypothesis or the left led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon would win an absolute majority, imposing on him an unprecedented cohabitation for a president who had just been re-elected, he would be deprived of practically all his powers in internal politics.

It is no longer he who will determine the policy of the nation, but the majority in the National Assembly and the Prime Minister who will come from it.summarizes Dominique Rousseau, professor of constitutional law at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University.

Mr. Mélenchon, a veteran of French political life, has established himself as his main opponent by taking the lead of an unprecedented alliance bringing together socialists, communists, ecologists and his own movement, and by leading the most dynamic campaign, according to analysts.

The left is proposing an economic program planning to inject 250 billion euros (336 billion Canadian dollars) into the economy (against 267 billion in revenue), including 125 billion in aid, subsidies and redistribution of wealth.

A man and a girl walk past legislative election posters in Bayonne.

Photo: Associated Press/Bob Edme

The election takes place in a climate of concern among the French in the face of soaring food and energy prices.

The government makes a point of recalling that France has the lowest inflation rate (5.2% in May over one year) in Europe and has promised new measures to safeguard purchasing power after the elections.

The final result of the legislative elections in a week could influence the composition of the executive formed on May 20, fifteen of its members, including Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, being candidates. However, they will have to resign in the event of defeat, under an unwritten rule, but already applied in 2017 by Emmanuel Macron.

In Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies, where we voted on Saturday, as in several territories outside mainland France, the Secretary of State for the Sea Justine Benin is in a favorable ballot against a diverse left candidate.

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