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Macron's party celebrates victory in French parliamentary elections

People react at La Republique en Marche (LREM) headquarters in Paris after polls closed for the second round of the French parliamentary elections - AFP

People react at La Republique en Marche (LREM) headquarters in Paris after polls closed for the second round of the French parliamentary elections - AFP

19/06/2017 12:50

(Vatican Radio)  The new party of French President Emmanuel Macron, including untested novices, is preparing to massively enter the lower house of Parliament after winning an overwhelming majority in Sunday's election which was overshadowed by a record low turnout.

Macron's year-old “La Republique En Marche” (Republic on the Move) party won more than 300 seats in parliament, slightly less than expected but enough to disrupt politics as usual and clinging the young leader's hold on power.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report: 

Supporters of the Republic on the Move party, founded last year by now French President Macron, celebrated in Paris where official partial results showed them with 327 seats, with 33 seats yet to be counted.

They received far more than the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority, sweeping aside traditional parties and securing a strong mandate for Macron's pro-business reforms.

The historic victory, based on official figures and pollster projections, redraws France's political landscape. It is humiliating the Socialist and conservative parties that alternated in power for decades until Macron's election in May.

Macron, who was elected at age 39 as the youngest president in France's history, has now fulfilled his wish to disrupt politics with a new approach and new faces,  — including a farmer, a teacher, and a math genius.


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 have promised to fight his plans to overhaul French labor laws, one of the touchiest subjects in France.

National Front leader Le Pen celebrated that her party was expected to place up to eight lawmakers in the lower chamber, compared to two lawmakers in the outgoing Assembly, though she acknowledged that it was not enough to form a block in Parliament.

Le Pen, who rivaled Macron for the presidency, was pleased that she managed for the first time to enter Parliament with a seat representing her northern bastion around Henin-Beaumont with more than 58 percent of the vote.

And she warned: "We will fight the migration policy that seeks to accelerate the arrival of migrants in accord with [Chancellor] Angela Merkel’s Germany." Le Pen added: "We will always be here, tomorrow before today, to defend France and the French people and to propose a project of future that would break with policies implemented for decades. Long live the Republic, long live France!"

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said however that "Through their vote, a wide majority of the French have chosen hope over anger," reiterating what he called his "total" determination to work on reforms in the coming months.

A minor reshuffle of the Cabinet, a necessary move after parliamentary elections, was expected this week, perhaps as soon as Monday. A record-low turnout marred the vote with far less than France's 47.5 million eligible voters bothering to cast ballots amid widespread disillusionment with politics and voter fatigue following several roller coaster campaigns and voting.

19/06/2017 12:50