Turnout worries for Macron ahead of election

2017-06-17 09:17
(Laurent Ciprian, AP)

(Laurent Ciprian, AP)

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Paris - French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for a high turnout in Sunday's parliamentary election, which is expected to hand President Emmanuel Macron's new party an overwhelming majority.

Macron's year-old Republic on the Move (REM) party and its allies are tipped to win a landslide in the run-off election for the 577-member lower house of parliament.

Huge change

Pollsters forecast them securing up to 470 seats, but low turnout in the first round has led critics to question the strength of the mandate for Macron's ambitious reform agenda.

In the first round, the abstention rate hit a nearly 60-year high of 51.3% and is forecast to rise to 53-54% in the run-off, much higher than the 44.6% in the last election five years ago.

"Go to vote!" Philippe said while campaigning in southern France. "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 responsibility".

Sunday's results promise to deliver huge change to the National Assembly, bringing in a younger, more ethnically and socially diverse generation of lawmakers, many of whom are new to politics.

Political figures

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist unknown to most people three years ago, looks on course to complete his stated aim of a "revolution" in French politics which few took seriously when he started in April last year.

"We've shot down everything that represented the system before and we're trying something else," said historian Didier Maus, who sits on France's Constitutional Council.

France is on course for the "biggest overhaul of its political figures since 1958 and perhaps 1945," he said.

Read more on:    emmanual macron  |  france  |  election

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