France continues legislative election with Socialists poised to win
Paris, June 17 (Xinhua-ANI): French voters head into the second round of legislative elections Sunday to choose their next parliament, with the left poised to win overwhelmingly after taking the lead in the first round.
Results of last Sunday's first-round voting revealed that President Francois Hollande's left-leaning Socialist Party (PS) and its rallies obtained 46 percent of the vote, much higher than the 34 percent secured by former President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
The outcome bolstered Hollande's chances of implementing wide-ranging reforms, including imposing higher taxes on the rich, to put France's fiscal house into order and stimulate long-term economic growth.
For the second round, opinion polls published on the last day of campaigning indicated that the Socialist bloc is set to win between 287 and 330 seats in the 577-member lower house of parliament, where the minimal number needed for taking an absolute majority is 289.
The Greens, which has made a voting pact with the PS, is expected to collect between 14 to 20 seats, and the hardline Left Front will be represented by 8 to 12 seats.
For the right-wing part, the conservative UMP is projected to take between 210 and 263 seats, while the far-right National Front (FN) might for the first time win up to three seats for a real presence in the parliament since 1986.
Given the first-round results and recent polls, the left is in a position to bag the premiership in addition to the presidency.
Already taking control of the upper house of parliament last year and running 21 out of 22 regional and local governments, the left is thus very likely to take full control of the state's political power.
However, Sunday's face-off is yet a tough challenge for those ministers who did not get the more than 50 percent of vote needed to be elected outright but qualified for the second round. Hollande has made it clear that anyone who fails to win the legislative election will leave the government.
In the first round, 24 out of 36 ministers took up the challenges to be candidates, with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and a few others re-elected.
On the right-wing side, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Secretary General Jean-Francois Cope of the UMP were qualified for the second round.
The voter turnout in the first round was 57 percent, a record low for a French legislative election. In order to secure a solid victory for the Socialists in the second round, Ayrault has asked voters to go to polling booths in large numbers to ensure a winning.
FN leader Marie Le Pen and her niece, 22-year-old Marion Marechal-Le Pen, are vying for the seats in two constituencies, with one near northern city of Lille and the other in the southern Vaucluse area.
Sunday's voting is a key test for Hollande's ex-partner, Socialist heavyweight Segolene Royal, who is running for parliament in the La Rochelle constituency against Socialist dissident Olivier Falorni. The latter refused to stand down although the party has named Royal as its official candidate.
As the mother of four, Royal ran unsuccessfully for president in 2007 just before she and Hollande split, but this time she won Hollande's support in the legislative election.
Unfortunately, Royal, the best achiever in June 10's first round of vote with 32 percent against Falorni's 28.91 percent, was thrown into trouble when Hollande's current partner Valerie Trierweiler tweeted on Tuesday a message of support for Falorni.
The tweet has caused consternation and embarrassment in the Socialist camp at a critical moment. A following-up Ifop poll predicted Royal is badly losing to Falorni, although she told media that she "never admits defeat" and asked the French people to respect the support she is receiving from Hollande.
However, both Ayrault and First Secretary of the Socialist Party Martine Aubry have reaffirmed the party's full support for Royal's candidacy. (Xinhua-ANI)
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