FRENCH voters head to the polls
on Sunday for parliamentary
elections set to hand a landslide
victory to the Republic On The
Move (REM) party of President
Emmanuel Macron.
The expected victory would
complete Macron’s stunning
reset of French politics, the AFP
The new assembly is due to
be transformed with a new
generation of lawmakers —
younger, more female and more
ethnically diverse — winning
seats in the afterglow of Macron’s
success in presidential elections
last month.
The scale of the change is set
to be so significant that some
observers have compared the
overhaul to 1958, the start of
the present presidential system,
or even the post-war rebirth of
French democracy in 1945.
It is also entirely unexpected:
Macron was unknown three years
ago and initially given little chance
of emerging as president, but he
and his 15-month-old Republic
on the Move (REM) party have
tapped into widespread desire for
“It’s like a science fiction movi for me,” REM candidate Beatrice
Failles, a weapons inspector,
writer and community activist,
told AFP this week during
campaigning in Paris.
REM is forecast to win between
400 and 470 seats in the 577-strong
parliament, one of the biggest
majorities post-war that would
give pro-EU centrist Macron a free
hand to implement his businessfriendly
Sunday’s voting is the decisive
second round of the election
after a first round of voting last
weekend which was topped by
If confirmed, the victory
will come at the expense of
France’s traditional parties,
the rightwing Republicans and
Socialists, but also the far-right
National Front which faces major
The Socialists are set to be the
biggest victim of voters’ desire
to reject establishment figures
associated with years of high
unemployment, terror attacks and
lost national confidence.
Pollsters predict the party will
see its strength in parliament
fall from nearly 300 seats to
around 20 after their five years in power under president Francois
“Desperately seeking an
opposition,” said the front page
of Le Parisien newspaper on
Turnout will be closely watched
after it hit a nearly 60-year low for
the first round of voting, leading
some to warn Macron his mandate
is not as strong as he thinks.
“Go and vote!” Prime Minister
Edouard Philippe said on
Thursday. “It’s the same message
here as everywhere else: no one
should abstain. In France voting is
not obligatory… it is a right and a
In the first round, REM won
32 percent of the total number of
votes cast, but this represented
only about 15 percent of the total
number of registered voters.
Around half of REM’s
candidates are virtual unknowns
drawn from diverse fields of
academia, business or local
activism. They include a
mathematician, a bullfighter and
a former Rwandan orphan.
“You could take a goat and give
it Macron’s endorsement and
it would have good chance of
being elected,” political analys Christophe Barbier joked
In some areas of Paris,
the comment has led to a
guerrilla campaign to replace
the photographs of REM
candidates with a picture of a
goat on their posters outside
voting stations.
The other half of Macron’s
loyalists are a mix of centrists
and moderate left- and rightwing
politicians drawn from
established parties including
ally MoDem.
Other key battles on Sunday
include far-right leader Marine
Le Pen’s attempt to win her
first seat in parliament from
the northeastern former
coal mining town of Henin-
Her victory would be a rare
bright spot for her nationalist
and anti-EU party which was
once hoping to emerge as the
principal opposition to Macron
in parliament.
The firebrand and influential
leader of new far-left party
France Unbowed, Jean-Luc
Melenchon, is also seeking a
seat from the southern port of

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