President Emmanuel Macron won a commanding majority in France’s parliamentary election on Sunday, pollsters’ estimates showed, sweeping aside the mainstream parties and securing a powerful mandate to push through his pro-business reforms.
The result, if confirmed, redraws France’s political landscape, humiliating the traditional Socialist and conservative parties that alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May blew apart the left-right divide.
Two pollsters projected that Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) and its Modem allies would win 355-360 seats in the 577-seat lower house, lower than previously forecast.
A third poll by Elabe showed a far bigger majority, projecting 395-425 seats from the Macron alliance.
The three projections predicted the conservative The Republicans and its allies would form the largest opposition block with 97-133 seats while the Socialist Party, in power for the last five years, and its partners would secure 29-49 seats, their lowest ever.
Marine Le Pen, Macron’s arch-rival on the far right, may get four to eight seats, they said.
The scale of the majority hands Macron, a pro-European Union centrist, a strong platform from which to make good on campaign promises to revive France’s fortunes by cleaning up politics and relaxing regulations that investors say shackle the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.
Voter turnout was projected to be a record low for parliamentary elections in the post-war Fifth Republic at about 42 percent.
The high abstention rate underlines that Macron may yet have to tread carefully with reforms in a country with muscular trade unions and a history of street protests that have forced many a past government to dilute new legislation.
France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, Macron emerged from relative obscurity to score a thumping win in the presidential election in May.
Having never held elected office, he seized upon the growing resentment towards a political elite perceived as out of touch, and on public frustration at their failure to create jobs and spur stronger growth to win the Elysee.
His year-old party then filled the political space created by the disarray within the Socialist Party and The Republicans, with Sunday night capping a sequence of events that a year ago looked improbable.
Moreover, the scale of LREM’s win means Macron will enjoy an absolute majority even without the support of alliance partner Francois Bayrou and Modem, lending him a freer hand for reforms and room for a government reshuffle should he chose. Modem currently has two ministers in the cabinet.