French voters vote in parliamentary election

French voters vote in parliamentary election

French voters are choosing lawmakers in a parliamentary election Sunday, as President Emmanuel Macron tries to secure his majority while facing a growing threat from a leftist coalition.

In the first round of the election, more than 6,000 candidates, ranging from 18 to 92, are running for 577 seats in the National Assembly. Those who get the most votes will advance to the decisive second round on June 19.

After Macron re-election in May, his centrist coalition is seeking an absolute majority that would allow it to implement his campaign promises, which include tax cuts and raising retirement age from 62 to 65.

The latest opinion polls suggest that Macron and his allies may have trouble winning half of the parliamentary seats. A government with a large but not absolute majority would still be able to rule, but only by bargaining with legislators.

The main opposition force appears to be a newly-created coalition of leftists, greens and communists led by hard-left figure Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Melenchon urged voters to give his coalition a majority and force Macron to name him as the prime minister, which would lead to a situation called cohabitation. The leftist platform includes a minimum wage increase, lowering the retirement age to 60 and locking in energy prices.

Although Melenchon's coalition could win more than 200 seats, current projections give the left little chance of winning a majority. According to the latest polls, Macron and his allies are expected to win between 260 and 320 seats.

The two-round voting system is not proportional to the nationwide support for a party. The legislators are elected by district.

The parliamentary election is traditionally a difficult race for the French far-right candidates, as rivals tend to step aside in the second round to improve the chances of another contender.

The National Rally hopes to do better than five years ago, when it won eight seats after losing to Macron in the presidential election. With at least 15 seats, the far-right would be allowed to form a parliamentary group and gain greater powers at the assembly.

In her stronghold of Henin-Beaumont, in northern France, Le Pen is running for re-election.

The results may be impacted by the expected record-low voter turnout. More than half of France's 48.7 million electorate is expected to cast ballots, according to pollsters.

Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. In most of France, the ET was in most of France, except for some closings two hours later in big cities.

The National Assembly has the final say on the matter when it comes to voting in laws.