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Macron's takeover of French politics is all but complete

26 June 2017

Voter turnout was a record low for parliamentary elections in the post-war Fifth Republic at 48.6%, taking the shine off Macron's margin of victory in the first round.

The measures follow the scandal that destroyed the presidential bid of Republicans candidate Francois Fillon, who has been charged over payments to his wife and two of his children for suspected fake jobs as parliamentary assistants. Its leader Marine Le Pen blamed other parties which "support each other" to beat FN candidates.

Rating agency S&P Global Ratings said on Monday it was likely to raise its growth outlook for France and the euro zone now that Macron looks poised to win a huge majority.

A major win for Macron and his young formation had been predicted by leading pollsters in France, and it had already won over 50% of the votes in the first round of France's 11 foreign districts' races in which French nationals voted last weekend.

Macron's party contested 526 constituencies out of a possible 577.

The radical France Insoumise (France Unbowed) of leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon and on-off Communist allies fell short of expectations.

Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, head of the Socialist party that was in power until a month ago, acknowledged that the first round marked an "unprecedented" setback for the party, set to win a paltry 30-40 seats, and the broader left.

But with Macron's centrists sweeping the boards, Les Republicains still stand to lose up to half their seats, and are forecast to return 95 to 132 deputies.

The figures did not include votes from France's biggest cities and such early counts tend to be less precise than pollsters' estimates, which put Macron's party close to 33 percent.

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They also blamed the long election cycle, with party primaries that started previous year before the two rounds of presidential and then legislative voting, for turning voters off.

Some experts say the low turnout reflects fatalism among Macron's opponents in the face of his seemingly unstoppable advance.

Despite the poor performance, Le Pen's control over the party remained too strong for any challenge to her leadership in the near future, he said, especially after her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen stepped away from politics.

The second round of the vote is held next Sunday. The Republicans and Socialists dominated the house for generations.

He said that a "reaction is indispensable" in order to have a "balanced power" in the assembly. Le Pen complained that the legislative voting system didn't fully represent voters' wishes - because her party got around 14 percent of votes but wasn't able to greatly improve on the two legislators it had in the last legislature.

Sunday's results show he will have relatively free rein to push through the ambitious labour, economic and social reforms he promised on the campaign trail.

While Macron's party is confident, the more traditional parties are expected to struggle.

But while Macron's LRM party is pushing traditional parties into irrelevance, it is not getting a strong mandate from French voters.

The far-right formation had been hoping to pick up at least 15 MP seats so that it can be allowed to form a parliamentary group of their own, and is now projected to win only somewhere from one to five seats in the French National Assembly.

Macron's takeover of French politics is all but complete