Pollsters project Macron on course to dominate parliament
French President Emmanuel Macron's party was on course yesterday to win a crushing parliamentary majority that will clear a path for his promised programme of far-reaching reforms, according to projections from the first round of legislative elections marked by widespread voter apathy and another black eye for traditional parties that monopolised power for decades.
Pollsters projected that as many as one-third of votes went to Macron's camp in the first stage of the two-part election - putting his candidates comfortably ahead of all opponents going into the decisive second round of voting next Sunday for the 577 seats in the lower-house National Assembly.
Macron's prime minister, Edouard Philippe, confidently declared Sunday night that the second-round vote would give the assembly a "new face".
"France is back," he said.
Pollsters estimated that 400 seats or more could end up in the hands of the Macron camp - and that the opposition in parliament would be fragmented as well as small. Macron's rivals fretted that his majority will be so large that he'll have a free hand to govern France almost unopposed for the duration of his five-year term.
The National Front of far-right leader Marine Le Pen looked unlikely to convert her strong showing in the presidential election into a large number of legislative seats. Pollsters projected it could have 10 or fewer legislators - more than the two it had in the last parliament, but not enough to make the National Front the major opposition force Le Pen was hoping for after she advanced for the first time to the presidential run-off that Macron won on May 7.
The party's secretary general, Nicolas Bay, warned of Macron getting "a majority so big that he will have a sort of blank check for the next five years".
The two mainstream parties on the left and right that dominated French politics for decades were again left licking their wounds, marginalised by the swing of voter support behind Macron's political revolution.