French Socialists Take Lead in Parliamentary Election

Posted June 10th, 2012 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Exit polls from France's first round of parliamentary elections show President Francois Hollande's Socialist party and its allies winning the largest bloc of seats in the lower house.

Early poll results show the leftwing parties winning up to 40 percent of seats in the 577-seat National Assembly or lower house of parliament.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party won around 35 percent of the vote, while the far right National Front received just over 13 percent.

Analysts say that will allow Mr. Hollande to enact measures he hopes will help curb unemployment and kick-start the Eurozone's second largest economy.

Voter turnout in Sunday's poll was reported at 48.3 percent, slightly lower than the 49 percent in the 2007 parliamentary vote.

A second and final round of voting is scheduled for June 17.

France's Senate, the upper house of parliament, is already under left-wing control.

Mr. Hollande unseated Mr. Sarkozy in a May 6 runoff election. The new president needs lawmakers' support to persuade European Union leaders, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to focus on spurring economic growth rather than enforcing austerity in struggling European economies.

France has about 45 million eligible voters. Those living in remote overseas territories, such as French Guyana, French Polynesia and the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, began voting Saturday.