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Parliamentary elections: Emmanuel Macron's party charging towards landslide victory
12 June 2017, 10:16 | Kara Nash
The turnout rate was 41% by late afternoon
French polling agencies are projecting that President Emmanuel Macron's new centrist party crushed traditional rivals in the first round of parliamentary elections.
The electorate returns to the polls next Sunday for the second round but it's predicted that Macron will handsomely win the 289 seats needed for a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly, with Le Figaro projecting that En Marche will likely finish with between 400 and 440 seats.
Such a share would give Macron one of the biggest parliamentary majorities for 60 years.
"France is back", Prime Minister Edouard Philippe declared triumphantly, calling the result a vote for the president's "confidence, will and daring".
The results, if confirmed, are another blow to the country's mainstream Socialist and conservative parties already reeling from Macron's election in May, which blew apart the left-right divide that has shaped French politics for the past century.
Voter turnout was a record low for parliamentary elections in the post-war Fifth Republic at 48.6 percent, taking the shine off Macron's margin of victory in the first round.
On the other hand, Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National, which came second in the presidential election with 10.6m votes, was projected to win between three and 11 seats - with about 14% of the vote, which the party said was "disappointing".
Runner-up in France's presidential election, Le Pen urged "patriotic" voters to turn out en masse in the second round June 18 and boost her party's small presence in the National Assembly.
Socialist leader Jean-Christophe Cambadélis lost his seat in the first round. "Having a monochrome parliament is never good for democratic debate".
Former Republicans party leader Jean-Francois Cope said the results were "a disaster". "We need to rebuild everything", he told BFMTV.
With all the ballots counted by early Monday morning, La Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move) and its Mouvement Democrate (MoDem) allies won a combined 32.3 per cent of the vote, while the established Les Republicains trailed with 15.8 per cent of the vote, reports CNN.
Few MPs were elected outright yesterday.
If no candidate manages to achieve that target, then all who won at least 12.5 per cent of registered voters go to the second round, where the victor will advance to Parliament.
President Macron claims his political leanings are to neither the left or the right.
Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who, like Macron, has a pro-EU stance - congratulated him on the "great success" of his party.
His party fielded political novices in around 200 constituencies.
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