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France polls: Macron's party wins clear parliamentary majority

19 June 2017

A voter exits a voting booth after voting for the second round of parliamentary elections, in Lyon, central France, Sunday, June 18, 2017.

European stocks led world markets higher on Monday after parliamentary elections in France gave a majority to President Emmanuel Macron, an outcome that will give him more power to reform the economy.

Macron was duly elected president via a combination of strong first round support and the backing in the second round of those who did not want a victory for his run-off opponent, the far-right's Marine Le Pen. But he may be getting more than he bargained for with the entry into parliament of loud voices from the ultra-left and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, both promising to fight his plans to overhaul French labor laws, one of the touchiest subjects in France.

Polling agency projections suggested that Macron's Republic on the Move party could take 355 to 365 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, the powerful lower house.

Le Pen will leave the European Parliament, where she had been elected for the first time in 2004, and where a procedure was opened recently to strip her of her immunity over suspicions that FN party members were unduly paid by the EU parliament as assistants.

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French voters have given President Emmanuel Macron's party a solid victory in the parliamentary election. They started arriving at the National Assembly on Monday to learn their way around before the first session of parliament next week.

With legislative elections often following the presidentials, the same system has the effect of blocking parties on the edges of the political spectrum, and gives voters an incentive to opt for the sitting president's candidate.

Though lower than forecast by pollsters in the run-up to the vote, Macron's majority swept aside France's main traditional parties, humiliating the Socialist and conservative The Republicans party that alternated in power for decades.

Just months ago, Macron was given little chance of becoming president, never mind controlling parliament, but he and the movement he founded 16 months ago have tapped into widespread desire for wholesale change.

The party of Mr Macron's predecessor Francois Hollande shed more than 250 seats, obtaining just 29.

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His confident start at home, where he has concentrated on trying to restore the lost prestige of the president, and his decisive action on the worldwide stage have led to a host of positive headlines. The contrary had been previously announced.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon's party won 17 seats, over the minimum of 15 needed to form a group, a tool that provides extra funds, speaking time and other ways to weigh in on policy.

With 82% of the vote counted, the Interior Ministry said Mr Macron's party had 42% of the vote, the conservative Republicans had 22% and the far-right National Front captured 10%.

"We're worth at least 80 (seats) in my opinion, given the energy we will use to promote our views", Le Pen told a news conference. Then again, it's the biggest majority in the Assembly since the 1968 elections and the result also confirms the destruction of the Socialist party and the disarray of the Republicians.

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France polls: Macron's party wins clear parliamentary majority