Paris – French President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche (LREM) swept the country’s parliamentary election on Sunday in what observers described as a “political tsunami.”
Near-final results from France’s first-round parliamentary elections showed Macron’s movement winning by a large margin and set to land a huge majority in the final-round vote.
With 94 percent of votes counted, the Interior Ministry said LREM won 28 percent of votes.
The conservative Republicans had 16 percent, followed by the far-right National Front with 14 percent.
The far-left party of Jean-Luc Melenchon had 11 percent while the Socialists, who dominated the last National Assembly, had just 7 percent.
The vote delivered a further crushing blow to the Socialist and conservative parties that had alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May blew apart the left-right divide.
That would give France’s youngest leader since Napoleon a powerful mandate to make good on campaign pledges to revive France’s fortunes by cleaning up politics and easing regulations that investors say hobble the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.
“France is back,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on French TV. “Next Sunday, the National Assembly will embody the new face of our republic.”
Voter turnout was a record low for parliamentary elections in the post-war Fifth Republic at 48.6 percent, taking the shine off Macron’s margin of victory in the first round.
Both the Socialists and the conservative Republicans urged more voters to cast their ballots in the June 18 second round, warning them against allowing too much power to be concentrated in the hands of one party.
Projections by three pollsters of LREM’s tally after the second round ranged from 390 to 445 of the assembly’s 577 seats – potentially the biggest majority since president Charles De Gaulle’s conservatives won more than 80 percent of seats in 1968.
Macron, a former investment banker, wants what supporters describe as a “big bang” of economic and social reforms, including an easing of stringent labor laws and reform of an unwieldy pension system.
The pro-European leader’s program enjoys strong support among liberal, well-educated voters in France’s big cities, but he is less popular in poorer areas where industry is in decline.
Sunday’s projections pointed to another torrid night for the two main traditional parties, which have suffered high-profile defections to Macron’s government, as well as the far-right National Front.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who led the voting in her northern constituency, called the huge abstention rate “catastrophic” and urged supporters to turn out in a week’s time.
Pollsters projected her party, which is still reeling from her disappointing showing in the presidential run-off vote against Macron, will next week win just a small handful of seats – perhaps as few as one.
Among the LREM political newcomers who went through to second round were his key ministers and a retired bullfighter.