Macron party wins majority in parliament

Paris, Monday French President Emmanuel Macron is celebrating a convincing victory in National Assembly elections that gives him the manda...

Officials counting votes after poll station closed for the second round of the French legislative elections in Saint-leu, on the French island La Reunion, on Sunday. Photo/AFP

Paris, Monday

French President Emmanuel Macron is celebrating a convincing victory in National Assembly elections that gives him the mandate to push through wide-ranging social and economic reforms.

Three-quarters of the assembly are new members and a record 233 of the 577 MPs are women. Macron’s fledgling La République en Marche (LREM) won 308 seats with 43 per cent of the vote. But the 42.64 per cent turnout is a record low for modern-day France.

Together with its centrist MoDem allies, LREM now forms a bloc of 350 seats, well over the 289 seats needed to control parliament. The election result means that a party that only began life in April 2016 now has complete control of France’s lower house of parliament and that means the president can press on with steering through his broad programme of reform.

In line with tradition, the government which was only formed last month under Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, will resign and be replaced by a new team. “He now has his majority, beyond all his hopes,” warned commentator Etienne Lefebvre.

“Undoubtedly that will make his task easier but it’ll also increase expectation.” The old political guard is a shadow of its former self. The centre-right Republican-led grouping has 137 seats, and the outgoing Socialists 44.

For the first time, the far-left La France Insoumise (France unbowed) enters parliament with 27 seats while the far-right National Front (FN) has increased its number to eight, including leader Marine Le Pen.

Never has the French parliament had so many women MPs and that is down to President Macron’s policy of equal gender selection. It gives the 39-year-old president one of France’s biggest post-war majorities in what editorialist Alexis Brezet of the right-leaning daily Le Figaro called a “revolution”. “A profoundly renewed political generation takes over the reins of legislative power,” he wrote.

“In the history of our institutions, it’s a revolution without precedent since 1958,” the start of France’s Fifth Republic. But detractors point to a record low turnout of just under 44 percent in Sunday’s polling, saying Macron cannot claim to enjoy a deep vein of support. -BBC/AFP

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