French President Emmanuel Macron's new centrist party appears on its way to a strong majority in the powerful lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly, after winning 32.3 percent of the vote in the first round of national legislative elections on Sunday. Macron's party, Le Republique en Marche, and its allied MoDem party together are projected to win up to 445 of the 557 seats in the National Assembly; 298 seats would be a majority. The center-right Republican Party came in second place, with just under 16 percent; the far-right National Front took 13.2 percent; the far-left France Unbowed grabbed 11 percent of the vote; and the outgoing ruling Socialist Party won just 7.4 percent.
"France is back," said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe after the vote. Socialist leader Jean-Christophe Cambadélis lost his seat in the first round. The second round of voting is next Sunday, June 18.
Macron, 39, founded his En Marche party just 14 months ago, and he was undoubtedly aided by luck. "But he has also foreseen with uncanny clarity how — with the right moves at the right places at the right times — the map of French politics was waiting to be redrawn," says BBC News correspondent Hugh Schofield. "If the projections from the first round are sustained, then the change that is about to happen to the National Assembly is as big as the one that occurred in 1958 when Charles de Gaulle brought in the Fifth Republic," but enacting actual reform with his slate of novice legislators "is the next challenge. And bigger." Peter Weber
After one month in office, French President Emmanuel Macron is poised to consolidate his victory by taking a clear majority in the National Assembly elections, which begin Sunday.
Polling shows a strong lead for Macron's En Marche! movement, founded just a year ago and fielding candidates — many of them young and political newcomers — in 525 of 577 districts, of which the new party is expected to win as many as 400 seats. The only other party predicted to take more than 100 seats are the conservative Republicans, while the Socialists, far-right National Front, and far-left Left Party collect, at most, a few dozen.
Like the presidential race, the parliamentary election for the lower house (members of the upper house, the Senate, are not chosen by direct popular vote) is a two-stage runoff. A second round of voting on Sunday, June 18, will take place for all races that do not have an outright winner in the first ballot. Bonnie Kristian
And you thought American politics were the wild west. Meet Daniel Delomez, the mayor of the town of Annezin in northern France. Delomez is so mad that 38 percent of his local electorate voted for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday's presidential election that he says he might step down, he told French publication L'Avenir de l'Artois.
"It is catastrophic," Delomez said. "It's possible that I will step down as I do not want to dedicate my life to assholes."
— L'Avenir de l'Artois (@avenirartois) April 23, 2017
Delomez belongs to the Socialist Party; far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon received the second highest amount of votes in Annezin, after Le Pen. Le Pen will face centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in a two-way run-off election in May.
With France going to the polls on Sunday for the first round of its presidential election, President Trump has remained uncharacteristically quiet. "Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this," he tweeted Friday morning. "Will have a big effect on presidential election!"
If the tweet was meant as a prediction or endorsement of the success of far-right anti-European Union leader Marine Le Pen, it is a muted one compared to Trump's vocal support of the Brexit vote last year.
Trump's relative silence is an interesting one: Le Pen, like Trump, has taken a hardline stance against immigration and securing the countries' borders from the threat of extremists, and ideologically she shares much in common with Trump's senior strategist, Stephen Bannon. But one Trump associate told Politico that Trump knows he cannot get too involved in foreign elections: "Even if there was some sympathy, there's nothing a president can do. That would be very undiplomatic," the associate told Politico.
Former President Barack Obama has also danced around the French election, taking a call from Le Pen's rival, centrist Emmanuel Macron. While not an explicit endorsement, Axios noted that "Obama and Macron are ideologically aligned and the signal will be noticed by French voters."
Trump, for his part, dodged an opportunity to come out one way or another during a press conference Thursday. "A strong Europe is very, very important to me," Trump said. "We want to see it. We will help it be strong, and it's very much to everybody's advantage." Jeva Lange
On Sunday, Benoit Hamon easily won the presidential primary runoff to represent France's ruling Socialist Party in upcoming elections, beating more centrist former Prime Minister Manuel Valls 58 percent to 41 percent. Hamon, a former education minister, was the most left-leaning of the seven candidates in last week's first round, and he surged to frontrunner status by promising to champion a universal income for all French citizens, legalize marijuana, scrap a labor law pushed through by President Francois Hollande, and bring other political change. The Los Angeles Times calls Hamon "a Gallic Bernie Sanders," though he is only 49 and an actual socialist.
Hollande's deep unpopularity is expected to hurt the Socialists in the spring election, against center-right Republican Francois Fillon, far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, and independent former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron. Hamon urged other leftist parties to unite behind him. Peter Weber
In Sunday's runoff election to determine the conservative candidate who will stand in France's upcoming presidential election, hard-line conservative former Prime Minister Francois Fillon handily beat the more moderate Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppé, also a former prime minister. Fillon had been expected to win France's Republican nomination after getting nearly half the votes in last week's first round, which knocked out former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Juppé conceded defeat Sunday night, congratulating Fillon on his "wide victory" and promised to support him in the April-May general election. With almost all votes counted, Fillon was leading, 66.5 percent to 33.5 percent.
Fillon, who served as prime minister under Sarkozy, has proposed ending France's 35-hour work week, raising its retirement age, cutting 500,000 public-sector jobs, eliminating the wealth tax, and improving ties with Russia. On Sunday night he said that if French voters pick him, he "will take up an unusual challenge" for France: "To tell the truth and completely change its software." Fillon, 62, will likely face far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, centrist independent Emmanuel Macron, and the nominee of the Socialist party. President Francois Hollande, who is highly unpopular, is expected to announce whether he will seek another term within the next few days. Peter Weber