Polls favour Emmanuel Macron's party as French vote opens

  • 11/06/2017
French President Emmanuel Macron.
French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo credit: Getty / file

Polls have opened for the first round in France's parliamentary elections, with the year-old centrist party of recently elected President Emmanuel Macron heavily favoured to win a majority.

The last opinion polls of the legislative campaign put Mr Macron's La Republique en Marche (LREM) on 29 to 31.5 percent support for Sunday's first round.

Its closest rival, the centre-right Les Republicains, was the choice of only 19 to 23 percent of survey respondents.

The Socialist Party of Mr Macron's predecessor, Francois Hollande, meanwhile fears electoral meltdown.

Mr Macron will be hoping for a majority in the 577-member National Assembly in order to win approval for his government, headed by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

If LREM fails to win a majority, Mr Macron will have to strike deals to push through his manifesto commitments.

In his worst case scenario, if another party won a majority, he would be forced to appoint a prime minister from its ranks and would effectively lose control of the domestic political agenda.

However the signs for Macron are promising: The president's party could win a comfortable majority with between 360 and 427 seats in the assembly, according to projections by pollsters Harris Interactive and IPSOS.

Since 2002, when a constitutional amendment aligned the terms of office of the president and the National Assembly, voters have consistently given new presidents a legislative majority.

For constituencies not filled on Sunday, a second run-off vote will take place a week later.

More than 47 million people are eligible to vote in the first round of the elections.

They have until 6pm local time to cast their ballots or 8pm in larger cities. The first projections are expected at 8pm.

France, which is still under a state of emergency following a string of terrorist attacks, has placed 50,000 police officers on patrol for polling day.