French heading to polls to elect parliament members
People in France are heading to the polls to cast their ballots in the first round of parliamentary elections, with new President Emmanuel Macron projected to win a strong majority to implement pledged reforms.
Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) on Sunday and will close in the largest cities at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT).
A total of 7,882 candidates nationwide are vying for 577 seats up for grabs, and if no candidate wins over 50 percent of the votes in the first round, the two top-placed will go to the second round on June 18.
The latest opinion polls show that Macron’s centrist Republic On the Move (LREM) Party could win at least 30 percent of the votes in the first round of parliamentary elections, while the conservative Republicans and its allies would get around 20 percent and the far-right National Front of former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen around 17 percent.
The 39-year-old Macron and the former economy minister has called on voters to grant him a strong mandate to fulfill his campaign pledges to overhaul labor rules to make hiring and firing easier, cut corporate tax, and invest billions in areas including job training and renewable energy.
“We want a big majority to be able to act and transform France over the next five years,” said Mounir Mahjoubi, a junior minister in Macron’s government.
This comes as Macron’s rivals have been warning leftist voters that a landslide majority for Macron would be a danger to democracy.
The results of the Sunday vote would be a turning point for France as the country suffers an unemployment rate of near 10 percent and is at risk of breaking its public deficit commitments.
Meanwhile, polls have closed and vote counting has begun in the French overseas territory of Guiana.
Police in France have deployed more 50,000 forces on patrol as the country is still under a state of emergency following a wave of terrorist attacks that have claimed over 230 lives since 2015.