Macron seeks majority as France votes


French voters went back to the polls on Sunday for the first round of parliamentary elections that are tipped to give President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party a commanding majority. Polling stations opened across France at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) and voting continued in the largest cities until 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) with exit polls released immediately afterwards. Macron has enjoyed a smooth start in the five weeks since he beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to become France’s youngest-ever president, naming a cabinet that crosses left-right lines and making a big impression at international summits. His untested Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move, REM) party, which he only founded in April 2016, now needs a clear majority in the National Assembly for him to push through the reforms he has promised. A host of opinion polls show Macron’s party taking around 30 percent of the vote on Sunday, putting it in pole position to secure a landslide in the second round next Sunday. Some predictions show REM could take around 400 seats in the 577-seat chamber.—AFP

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