French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party has urged voters who stayed away to cast their vote in the second and final round of the country’s parliamentary election scheduled for June 18.

Final results released by the Interior Ministry have shown that Macron’s party The Republic on the Move (LREM) and its ally MoDem took a big lead in the parliamentary election’s first round on Sunday, with 32.32 per cent of the ballots cast.

This suggesting the novice president’s camp is on course to land an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament in a runoff.

Alone, LREM garnered 28.21 per cent of the votes, making a majority with more than 400 seats in reach for the multiform movement that Macron had created only one year ago.

However, fewer than half of the 47 million eligible voters cast their ballots in the first round, the lowest level by far in a legislative election in the fifth Republic, raising concerns that the low turnout would weaken Macron’s advantage.

The lower turnout was mainly attributed to two major reasons, too intensive election arrangements, and the public’s doubt over the French-style democracy and its effectiveness.

Since July 2016, French voters have seen major election activities in the country in less than one year, such as preliminary elections of candidates by various political parties, followed by two rounds of nationwide general presidential elections.

Various electoral activities, rallies and slogans sank French voters deep into “democratic fatigue.”

And as the democratically-elected presidents in the past decade failed to bail the country out of social, economic and development dilemma, many voters lost their interest in the elections.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said high abstention rate was “this election’s failure.”

“We must hear that. We must restore confidence. I call on all the candidates, whatever their political party, to mobilise,” he said.

After the expected huge win, the LREM was anxiously to mobilise their supporters to vote in the final round scheduled for June 18 to secure the president’s strong mandate to implement his promise of a series of reforms to reshape the politics and revive the economy.

Shortly after partial results were released on Sunday, LREM leader Catherine Barbaroux said “nothing is granted” in spite the movement’s good score.

“Low turnout invites us to continue our efforts more than ever. The first round is not decisive. Mobilisation must continue and must be reinforced in the second round,” she said.

After being sworn in, Macron immediately started up his “New Deal” at home, from reform on labour law to the establishment of anti-terrorism centre, and the enactment of new anti-corruption rules, all of which caught the hearts of French people and impressed them with pragmatic plans.

Meanwhile, the landslide victory of Macron’s camp in the first round was a severe blow to the traditional parties who have called on more voters to back Macron’s rivals to avoid his domination of parliament.

The Socialist Party, which controlled the National Assembly over the past five years, reported just 7.44 per cent of the vote.

As to the centre-right party, the Republicans and allied Union of Democrats and Independents secured the second place with 18.8 per cent, a lower-than-expected performance that the conservatives targeted to force creation of co-habitation government in which they eyed to have a strong say.

Marine Le Pen’s National Front gained only 13.2 per cent of the vote, according to the ministry.

More than 7,800 candidates are vying for the 577 seats in parliament. Top vote-winners will advance to the June 18 runoff.

Looking ahead, the outcome of the second round of the election is vital for the young president as a landslide triumph in the runoff will strengthen his ability to push through his pro-business and labor market reforms.

“We are witnessing the beginning of a political reshape that has benefited Macron for the moment.
He is able to embody a certain revival in the political landscape,” said Guillaume Indigo, an analyst at the opinion research institute BVA.

 

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