French voters head to polls in closely-watched parliamentary elections

Paris, June 12 (EFE).- The electoral colleges of metropolitan France opened Sunday for the first round of the legislative elections, expected to be a close battle between the blocs of President Emmanuel Macron and the new leftist coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

More than 48 million people are called to vote in the elections in which the 577 seats in the National Assembly are at stake. The main question is whether Macron will achieve an absolute majority or will be forced to seek alliances.

Polling booths are open from 8am (06:00 GMT) to 6pm in rural areas and small towns, and until 8pm in large cities.

Early voting was already over in most overseas territories. In the 11 French constituencies abroad (as well as in French Polynesia) this first round was held on June 4-5.

One of the elements expected to mark the day, according to pollsters, is a high abstention rate, anticipated to beat the record of 51.3 percent reached in the last elections in 2017.

They also predicted in the latest polls published up until Friday that Macron’s camp, under the Ensemble brand, and that of Mélenchon, of the New Ecological and Social Popular Union (Nupes), could end up in a neck-and-neck race.

If Nupes wins, which was not the hypothesis favored by the polls, it would be a huge success for the new coalition that brings together La France Insoumise, the environmentalists and the socialists.

It would be a leading role, due in part to the slogan chosen for the electoral posters, which talks of Mélenchon becoming the next prime minister, and forcing an alliance with Macron, which would be a situation unprecedented since 2002.

However, Mélenchon as PM at the end of the second round on June 19 does not seem realistic as polls clearly predict that Macron’s bloc will have a majority in the National Assembly. Whether it will be an absolute majority (at least 289 seats out of the 577) is yet to be seen.

The predicted number of seats for Ensemble are 280-330, while Nupes would stay with 160-190 deputies, which would place it as the largest opposition group by far. EFE


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