French Socialists Win Majority in Parliamentary Vote

Posted June 17th, 2012 at 4:20 pm (UTC-5)
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French President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party has taken a solid majority in Sunday's runoff parliamentary elections.

Partial polling results show the Socialists' bloc taking up to 320 seats in the 577-member National Assembly, well above the 289 needed for a majority.

The conservative UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to win at least 212 seats. The anti-immigration National Front party of Marine Le Pen, which placed third in the first round, took at least two seats.

Party leader Le Pen lost her own parliamentary race, by just 118 votes. But her niece, 22-year-old Marion Marechal-Le Pen won a seat for the party, which Le Pen called “an enormous success'.”

In an embarrassment for the Socialists, former presidential candidate Segolene Royal lost her bid, quashing her hopes of becoming speaker of the National Assembly.

Royal is Mr. Hollande's former partner and the mother of his four children. Her campaign became embroiled in controversy last week after the president's current partner, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, expressed support for Royal's opponent on Twitter.

Voter participation was reported at 21.4 percent by midday Sunday, in the election which was France's fourth in eight weeks.

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

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