Rout by Macron's party in French parliamentary election vote


Paris: Polls opened in mainland France for the country's parliamentary elections on Sunday which surveys forecast will hand an overwhelming majority to the centrist party of President Emmanuel Macron.

Polls suggest En Marche!, the fledgling party he founded only a year ago, may win up to 450 of the 577 seats in the national assembly, upsetting the established parties' grip on power.

Mrs Le Pen is expected to win a seat in the assembly, but fail to capture more than six across the country for her party. However, the Republicans would not pose any threat to Macron's governance.

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen is voting in the depressed northern town of Henin-Beaumont, where she is running for a parliament seat.

The victory for LREM, a movement launched by Macron less than a year ago, is considered a slap to mainstream parties, including the Socialist party that received less than 10 percent of the vote and will translate to a loss of 90 percent of its lawmakers. FILE - In this Sunday, June 11, 2017 file photo, people walk in a polling station before casting their ballots in the first round of parliamentary elections, in Lyon, central France.

The party lost around 200 seats after five years in power under former president Francois Hollande, leaving them with only around 27 to 49 seats.

The projections from Sunday's second-round legislative elections suggest that Macron's Republic on the Move! party handily beat the traditional left and right parties that have led the National Assembly for decades.

The Socialist Party and its allies are projected to win 20 - 30 seats, far less than its current 277 seats.

While French voters have handed past presidents large majorities in parliament, what's different this time is that Macron's party is splitting - and therefore weakening - the opposition.

However, the National Front party she leads is only forecast to get a total of four to eight seats.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also welcomed the vote's outcome, tweeting that it paved "the way for reforms in France+Europe".

It could be marred, however, by record low turnout that was registered in the first round and feared in the run-off - putting into question the government's legitimacy. At the end of the afternoon, turnout stood at only 35 percent - below last week's record low.

The party is expected to win only a handful of seats despite its third-place showing in the first round.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, a center-right politician who joined Macron's movement, cast his ballot in the port of Le Havre.

That would allow Macron to move fast with promised legislation, notably on changing labor laws to make hiring and firing easier.