French parliamentary elections overshadowed by low turnout

Based on 90 percent of the total votes counted Sunday night, Ensemble has collected 25.37 percent (5.1 million votes), while the pan-left NUPES led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon has so far collected 24.31 percent. (4.9 million votes), partial results from the French Ministry of the Interior showed.

A second round of voting is scheduled for June 19. If the Ensemble subsequently fails to reach the 289 absolute majority threshold — which major opinion polls predict as a possibility — Macron will become the first reigning French president not to gain a parliamentary majority since the 2000 electoral reform.

“The truth is that the presidential party has been battered and defeated after the first round,” Mélenchon claimed on Sunday after early forecasts were announced.

Sunday’s vote was overshadowed by low voter enthusiasm, with a turnout of 47 percent according to interior ministry data – the lowest for the first round of parliamentary elections since 1958, when the current French Fifth Republic was created.

Partial results from the Department of the Interior also pointed to a backlog of the far-right National Rally and the incumbent right-wing party The Republicans and its allies, by 19.9 percent and 10.58 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, right-wing political commentator Éric Zemmour, — whose new far-right party Reconquest! had gathered less than 5% of the votes in the first results – did not qualify for the next round of voting for the parliamentary seat he had envisaged.

Like the presidential elections, parliamentary elections in France are conducted on a two-round system. If no one gets more than half of the votes in the first round, all candidates who get at least 12.5 percent of the registered voters will be eligible for a second round.

The Élysée announced in May that ministers defeated in the parliamentary elections will have to resign from their cabinet posts.

Of the 15 minister-level officials who stand as candidates, several are at risk of losing, including Clément Beaune, the minister’s deputy for Europe who has played a prominent role in France’s response to the crisis in Ukraine.

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