Polling stations have opened in France in the second round of parliamentary elections, as President Emmanuel Macron's newly-established party is on its way to taking over the French Lower House.
Macron's Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move, REM) and its allies are forecast to take 400-470 seats in the 577-member parliament, one of the biggest post-war majorities that would give the pro-EU president a free hand to implement his business-friendly programme.
That prospect worries both rivals and some voters, and makes the turnout rate critical.
The victory for LREM, which was launched by Macron less than a year ago, is considered a slap to mainstream parties.
At midday, turnout appeared to be lagging.
The Republicans are set to form the biggest opposition group, with about 130 seats, while the Socialists could be reduced to fewer than 40 deputies, pollsters said.
The party lost around 200 seats after five years in power under former president Francois Hollande, leaving them with only around 27 to 49 seats.
With 75 percent of the votes counted Sunday night, Macron's party won 42 percent of the vote, followed by the conservative Republicans with 22 percent.
"This is France, not Russian Federation", far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said Friday (16 June) on Europe 1 radio. While Melenchon is known for bold talk, his words underscored worry about an eventual all-powerful Macron who, Melenchon said, "is going to end up believing he walks on water".
The ruling Socialist party, previously a mainstay of French politics, will face near wipe-out if the parliamentary election result mirrors the presidential one.
Some voters seemed excited by a victory for Macron's party, while others were frustrated.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said it signaled voters "had not wanted to hand Macron a blank check".
"I don't think we'll see a coalition this time but in the past it was a situation that worked".
But turnout was estimated to be extremely low, at around 44 percent, giving his critics grounds to claim he has no groundswell of support.
One target this week was Olivia Gregoire who is standing for a seat from a constituency in wealthy southwest Paris and whose posters, like most REM candidates, feature Macron's face prominently.
Le Pen's FN were only expected to win four to eight seats but she was elected an MP. She said her far-right National Front has won at least 6 seats in the French parliament and is still waiting for other results.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe cast his vote in the port city of Le Havre, where he served as mayor before becoming prime minister.
Senior left-wing journalist Edwy Plenel expressed the same sentiment, saying that even "donkeys" would be carried to power by the Macron wave such was its force.
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