French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party and its allies won an absolute majority in the National Assembly, exit polls showed, paving the way for them to pass legislation without the aid of other members of parliament.
The Socialist-led bloc won 320 out of the 577 seats, pollster CSA said, with 289 needed for a majority. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party and its allies have 221 seats and the far right anti-euro National Front won two seats, CSA said.
The Left Front, an alliance of radical left wingers, including former socialists like Jean-Luc Melenchon, and the French Communist Party, was projected to win 10-11 seats, against 19 seats in the current parliament.
Turnout in the second and decisive round of legislative elections was 56 percent.
‘The French people have amplified their call for change,’ Socialist Party head Martine Aubry stated.
The victory gives the Socialists control of practically every political institution in France -the presidency, the upper and lower houses of parliament, all but two of the regions and most of the country’s big cities, communes and departments – a first in the Fifth Republic.
Control of the lower house of parliament will allow Hollande to push through his programme which promises growth while balancing the budget – a very tall order.
Hollande has said growth, which has already stalled, can’t come from the increase in spending that the communist-backed Left Front has demanded.
The Socialists won’t have to rely on the 10 seats won by the Left Front.
Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the Communist Party, expressed disappointment at the result of the Left Front which in the Presidential election scored 11% .
‘It is clear that the voting system and the the electoral calendar misrepresent the scope of parliamentary elections and deform the landscape of the National Assembly in favour of bipartisanship.
‘On the Left , the legislative majority is thus distorted compared to the reality of the Left political majority in the country. The Socialists totalled 65% of the votes on the Left in the presidential election, nearly 70% with our allies in the parliamentary elections and more 90% of left wing deputies.
‘The Left Front gained 25% of the votes in the presidential elections, 15% in the parliamentary elections and 5% of left deputies. It is an anomaly caused by a relentless institutional logic that in each vote allowed the two largest formations today to monopolize 90% of seats in the National Assembly.’
Jean-Luc Melenchon, presidential candidate for the Left Front, pointed out, on the positive, that the country had ‘rejected the Right’.
But like Laurent, he expressed frustration at the fact that despite garnering 4 million supporters in the Presidential elections and 600,000 more votes than 2007 in the parliamentary elections, the Left Front was only to get 10-11 MPs.
Melenchon also hit out at what he has described as a Socialist ‘betrayal’ of him personally and the Left Front in general in the elections: ‘We paid dearly for our independence and have seen the energy that the Socialists deployed to try to defeat all the candidates of the Left Front.’
The question now was whether ‘the new left-wing government’ would ‘live up to expectations’ on the Left, he added. ‘We hope this is the case.
‘We will assume our role to be the voice for this expectation without concessions or naivity, or impatience.’
Marine Le Pen, the head of the far right anti-euro National Front who Melenchon failed to defeat in the northern Pas de Calais constituency a week ago, lost in her bid to sit in parliament when the socialist who led in the first round beat her to the seat this Sunday.
However, her 22-year-old niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen won her seat in southern France.