Polls open for French parliamentary election

The populist Le Pen, running for a parliamentary seat to represent her northern bastion around Henin-Beaumont, appears likely to win after scoring 46 percent of the vote in the first round.

The conservative Republicans are expected to form the bulk of the opposition but the Socialists face a humiliating defeat.

Concern that opposition voices might be silenced, and pluralism allegedly diminished, by a massive pro-Macron legislature were reflected in a poll published Thursday by Elabo for BFM-TV suggesting that more than half of respondents hoped the second round would "rectify the first round with a less large majority than expected".

New president's centrist party trounces opponents in second round of election.

Macron left a position in the Socialist government to run an independent presidential campaign.

The far-right National Front (FN) improved its performance after snatching 6 seats compared to two now, while the outgoing ruling the Socialist Party, lost its lead with only 32 seats. (LREM) political movement is set Sunday to win a sweeping parliamentary majority in a run-off vote. The party's leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, immediately stood down.

"This is France, not Russian Federation", far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said Friday on Europe 1 radio.

Republicans on the March (LREM, formerly En Marche!), formed by the 39-year-old former banker a year ago, is bound for between 355 and 425 seats out of 577, exit polls show, one of the highest majorities since Charles de Gaulle in 1968, giving him a strong mandate to start implementing his policies.

Sexual assault case against Bill Cosby ends in mistrial
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The assembly is set to be transformed with a new generation of lawmakers - younger, more female and more ethnically diverse - winning seats in the afterglow of Macron's success in last month's presidential election.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also welcomed the vote's outcome, tweeting that it paved "the way for reforms in France+Europe".

Macron needs an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house of parliament, to get his reform bills passed and govern at ease for the next five years.

Germany and France have the eurozone's two biggest economies and are the traditional motor of European integration.

Voters showed little enthusiasm for the election in what could be a record low turnout.

French voters are casting ballots in the final round of parliamentary elections that could clinch President Emmanuel Macron's hold on power, as his fledgling party overturns politics as usual.

Less than half of the 47.5 million-strong electorate turned out last Sunday, a record low that especially punished Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party.

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