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Emmanuel Macron seeks majority as France votes for new parliament

Macron has enjoyed a smooth start in the five weeks since he beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen

AFP | PTI  |  Paris 

Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron leave their house in Le Touquet, northern France, before casting their votes in the first round of the two-stage legislative elections, Sunday, June 11, 2017. French voters are choosing legislators in the first round of parliamentary elections, with President Emmanuel Macron's party "Republic on the Move" hoping to win a strong majority in the National Assembly to push through bold labor and security reforms

French voters go to the polls on Friday in the first round of parliamentary elections with President Emmanuel Macron's party appearing well-placed to gain a commanding majority.

Macron has enjoyed a smooth start in the five weeks since he beat far-right candidate to become France's youngest-ever president, naming a cabinet that crosses left- right lines and making a big impression at summits.

His centrist Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move, REM) party, which he only founded in April 2016 as a platform for his presidential bid, 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 could take around 30 per cent of the vote today, putting it in pole position to secure an absolute majority in the second round a week later.

That could translate to as many as 400 seats in the 577- seat chamber. has already had a boost after its candidates came first in 10 of the 11 French overseas constituencies that voted before the mainland.

If no candidate wins over 50 per cent in the first round, the two top-placed go into the second round - as well as any candidate who won the votes of over 12.5 per cent of the electorate.

Polling stations open at 8:00 am (local time) and close in the largest cities at 8:00 pm (local time).

More than 50,000 police will be on patrol in a country still under a state of emergency following a wave of attacks that have killed more than 230 people since 2015.

In the latest incident, which took place on Tuesday, a 40-year-old self-radicalised Algerian was shot and wounded after attacking a policeman with a hammer outside Paris' Notre Dame cathedral.

French voters have traditionally rallied behind their new leader in the legislative elections that follow the presidential ballot.

Macron's predecessors in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 and Jacques Chirac in 2002 all won outright majorities. Unlike Macron, however, they all came from long- established parties.

reflects the president's desire for a new brand of Initially dismissed by Macron's opponents as a movement of young activists without any real roots, it will field 530 candidates today.

In a bid to renew the political scene, many have never stood for office before, such as Marie Sara, a rare female bullfighter, who is taking on a senior member of Le Pen's in southern France, Gilbert Collard.

Macron has banned all candidates from employing family members if elected and they must not perform consultancy work while lawmakers.

The edicts follow the scandal that sunk the presidential chances of Francois Fillon, candidate for the rightwing Republicans party, who is facing criminal charges for paying his wife Penelope more than 900,000 euros (USD 1.0 million) as his parliamentary assistant.

First Published: Sun, June 11 2017. 16:45 IST