The political earthquake in France that began with the election of outsider Emmanuel Macron to the presidency in May looks set to continue after his Republic On The Move (LREM) party buried the opposition in the first round of parliamentary elections on Sunday. LREM and their MoDem allies won 32.3 percent of the vote putting them on course to take between 415 and 455 seats in the 577 seat parliament. The centre-right Republicans came second with 21.5 percent. Marine Le Pen’s National Front secured 13.2 percent putting them in third place. That will result will come as a major blow to the far-right party which had seen support in the high twenties during the early stages of the presidential election, but has been riven by infighting since Le Pen came a distant second to Macron in the race for the Élysée. The most dejected party of the night, however, was the Socialists, who after five years in power saw their vote share drop to an all-time low of 9.5 percent and party heavy weights including its presidential candidate, Benoit Hamon, lose their seats. The result reflects the split in the party caused by the outgoing government’s free market reforms. Macron, who authored those reforms during his spell as the economy minister took many on the right of the party with him when he set up his En Marche political movement, while many on the left of the party left to join Jean-Luc Melenchon’s France Unbowed. Although they finished ahead of the Socialists with over 11 percent, France Unbowed will still be disappointed with the result given that Melenchon received nearly 20 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections. The low turnout for Sunday’s vote is, however, casting a shadow over LREM’s celebration. With a less than 50 percent of the electorate choosing to vote in the first round all parties will be hoping for a turnout in the second round next Sunday.
Reporting by France 24, The Independent and the Guardian