It wasn’t the announced onslaught, but French President Emmanuel Macron’s party has won a clear parliamentary majority, weeks after his own presidential victory.
His party, La République en Marche, which was created a little over a year ago claiming to be neither of the left nor the right, secured 350 seats out of 577 in the National Assembly.
Abstention reached a record high, with 57 % of French voters choosing to stay at home. But analysts say that coming shortly after a rollercoaster presidential contest, it is less a reflection of brewing hostility towards Macron than the manifestation of a benevolent wait-and-see attitude towards a man who promises to overhaul the country’s ossified political system and reinvigorate its economy.
Victory for Macron, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, marks the routing of the old political class.
Having never held elected office, he seized on the growing resentment toward a political elite perceived as out of touch, and on public frustration at its failure to create jobs and spur stronger growth, to win the presidency.
His year-old party then filled the political space created by the disarray within the Socialist Party and the Republicans, with Sunday night capping a sequence of events that a year ago looked improbable.
The scale of LREM’s projected win means Macron will enjoy an absolute majority even without the support of alliance partner Francois Bayrou and Modem, lending him a freer hand for reforms and room for a government reshuffle should he choose to carry one out. Modem currently has two ministers in the Cabinet.
Macron’s rivals went into the second round trying only to limit the scale of the newcomer’s win. They urged voters not to allow too much power to be concentrated in the hands of one party and warned Macron’s MPs would be mere yes-men who would rubber-stamp legislation.
It appeared the message had some impact. Opinion polls before the vote had projected Macron could win as many as 470 seats.
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won his Marseille seat, promised “social resistance” to Macron’s reform agenda and said the high abstention rate meant the president lacked the legitimacy to destroy the labor code.