Turnout low with Macron set for parliamentary landslide

President’s party likely to take up to 80% of seats in French legislative election

French president Emmanuel Macron leaves a polling booth with his ballot shortly before casting his vote in the second round of the French legislative elections at the City Hall in Le Touquet, France. Photograph: Christophe Archambault/EPA

French president Emmanuel Macron leaves a polling booth with his ballot shortly before casting his vote in the second round of the French legislative elections at the City Hall in Le Touquet, France. Photograph: Christophe Archambault/EPA

 

Voters turned out in low numbers on Sunday in the second round of France’s parliamentary election, where president Emmanuel Macron is expected to win a landslide majority that should allow him to embark on far-reaching pro-business reforms.

The vote comes just a month after the 39-year-old former banker became the youngest head of state in modern French history, promising to clean up French politics and revive the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

Macron’s centrist En Marche movement is little more than a year old, yet pollsters project it will win as many as 75 to 80 per cent of the seats in the 577-seat lower house.

Turnout, though, was on course for a record low with Final voter turnout in the second round of France’s parliamentary election is estimated by pollsters at between 42 and 43 per cent after official data showed 35.33 per cent of the voters turned up to cast their ballot by 5pm (4pm Irish time).

French pollster Elabe estimated the turnout at 42 per cent, while Ipsos/Sopra Steria forecast it at around 43 per cent.

That would be even lower than the 48.7 per cent seen in a June 11th first round of voting, while the turnout in the second round of 2012 elections was 55.4 per cent.

“People know it’s already a done deal,” Alex Mpoy, a 38-year-old security guard told Reuters TV, echoing the apathy of many voters who intend to abstain. Mr Macron cast his vote early in the morning in the seaside resort of Le Touquet before flying to a ceremony outside Paris to mark the anniversary of Charles de Gaulle’s 1940 appeal for French resistance to Nazi Germany’s occupation. Polls show Mr Macron is on course to win the biggest parliamentary majority since Mr de Gaulle’s own conservatives in 1968.

Novices

Many of Mr Macron’s parliament will be political novices, something which will change the face of the chamber at the expense of the conservative and socialist parties that have ruled France for decades. One of the challenges for Mr Macron will be to keep such a diverse and politically raw group united behind him, as he sets out to overhaul labour rules, cut tens of thousands of public-sector jobs and invest billions in areas such as job training and renewable energy.

“There has never been such a paradox between a high concentration of power and strong tensions and expectations in terms of changes,” Laurent Berger, head of France’s CFDT union, told the weekly Journal du Dimanche. “There is no place for euphoria in victory. There is no providential man, no miracle solution”.

Mr Macron’s rivals have urged voters not to stay at home, warning power would be concentrated in the hands of one party and democratic debate stifled. “We need other parties to have some weight,” 54-year-old assembly line worker Veronique Franqueville said on the parking lot of a tumble-dryer factory in the northern town of Amiens. “If he wins it all there will be no debate.”

Reuters