Macron's leadership ratified as En Marche wins most votes in first round of France's parliamentary elections

     

     

    Europe: France

     

    Primer on parliamentary elections in France

    (June 11, 2017 - first round; June 18, 2017 -- second round)

     

    Parliamentary elections were set to be held in France in June 2017.  A first round of voting would take place on June 11, 2017, with a second round to follow on June 18, 2017. 

     

    In France, the legislative branch of government is the bicameral "Parlement" or parliament, which consists of the "Sénat" (Senate) and the "Assemblée Nationale" (National Assembly).  

     

    In the "Sénat" (Senate), there are 348 seats;  326 seats are reserved for metropolitan France and overseas departments, two for New Caledonia, two for Mayotte, one for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, one for Saint-Barthelemy, one for Saint-Martin, three for overseas territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad.  Members are indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms, with one-half elected every three years.  

     

    In the "Assemblée Nationale" (National Assembly), there are 577 seats; 555 seats are reserved for metropolitan France, 15 for overseas departments, seven for dependencies.  Members are elected by popular vote under a single-member majority system to serve five-year terms.  

     

    With the direct vote ensuing in the lower chamber 00 the National Assembly -- all eyes were trained on that body for the June 2017 voting process.  At stake would be the fate of the traditional political parties as well as that of the newly established En Marche -- the party of President-elect Emmanuel Macron, who was elected to power on May 7, 2017. 

     

    The main parties vying for representation in the parliamentary elections would thus be the    conservative Republicains (Republicans) and its UDI ally, the left wing Socialists, the far left France Unbowed, the far right extremist National Front, and the newly established progressive En Marche, along with its centrist ally, Modem.  

     

    Of note was the fact that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far right National Front, was expected to run for a parliamentary seat.  It was to be seen if she would seek to represent her  northern stronghold of Henin-Beaumont.  Regardless, her motivation was driven by her defeat in recent presidential elections to Emmanuel Macron.  His victory was boosted by  support from the right (Republicains) to the left )Socialists).  To this end, she said, "It's fundamental (that I run) after everything that we are seeing and all this collusion between the Socialists and the (conservative) Republicans." She added, "We need lawmakers that are not complicit and defend the interests of the French and France. So the best assurance is to have National Front lawmakers." 

     

    Polling data indicated that the National Front could significantly increase its representation in parliament.  Polling data also indicated that newly elected President Macron's La Republique en Marche (En Marche) could win several seats in the first round even though many of his party's candidates were political novices. 

     

    On election day, French voters went to the polls to cast ballots in the first round of the parliamentary elections.  Polling data appeared to have over-estimated the performance of the nationalists and under-estimated the clout of newly-elected President Macron's En Marche movement.  In fact, En Marche and its Modem allies were on track to capture the largest share of the vote with at least 30 percent.  The conservative Republicains and its allies garnered about 20 percent of the vote share, the far-right National Front carried around 14 percent, and the leftist Socialists sunk precipitously to 10 percent.

     

    Note that the actual composition of the legislative body would be determined after the second round on June 18, 2017.  However, with the second round acting as a "clarifier" of sorts, Macron's En Marche was set for a blowout victory.  

     

    This result at the legislative level, coming after his own decisive presidential victory, made clear that President Macron had a solid mandate.  Indeed, voters were making clear that they were endorsing  France's new leader and empowering him to move forward with far-reaching labor and economic reforms, as well as investments in  job training and renewable energy, aimed at transforming France. 

     

    It was also possible that Macron was consolidating support from a faction of voters who supported him in the second round of the presidential elecion only to prevent Le Pen from becoming president.  These voters -- some from the right and some from the left -- may have been impressed by Macron's strong -- and astute -- public stances against United States Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Meanwhile, leftist voters particularly may have favorably viewed Macron's initiative for climate change after the United States opted out of the landmark Paris Accord, and decided to reward him at the legislative level.  Stated differently, Macron's political strength on the international stage, and in an arena of importance to educated voters (climate change), may have transformed "one time only" Macron supporters into real supporters willing to give him the legislative support needed to lead the country forward. 

     

    French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe appeared to telegraph the French sentiment after these elections as he said, “France is back."  Of Macron, the prime minister said that the new president “has embodied trust, willingness and audacity.”

     

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