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France: Socialists tipped to win majority in parliamentary elections

The Socialist Party of French President François Hollande looks set to receive the majority it needs in parliament to push through a series of tax and spending reforms.

Francois hollande parliamentary electionsEnlarge
France's President Francois Hollande smiles as he leaves the polling station after casting his ballot for the first round of French parliamentary elections on June 10, 2012 in Tulle, central France. (BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)

PARIS, France — The Socialist Party of French President François Hollande looks set to receive a majority in Sunday's parliamentary elections, which will allow the ruling party to push through a series of tax and spending reforms, France 24 reported.

Interior Ministry figures show the Socialist Party and its Green and left-wing allies took around 46 percent of the first round vote, leaving the conservatives, including the former president Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, trailing on 35 per cent.

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The far right National Front party of Marine Le Pen took 13 percent, while the communist Left Front, whose leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon was outpolled by Le Pen in the Henin-Beaumont constituency, took 7 percent.

The abstention rate for Sunday's vote was 42.77 percent – a record low for a French parliamentary election, with just over 26 million people casting a ballot compared to the 46 million who were registered, France Info reported.

With the first round out of the way, France must head to the polls again next Sunday to choose between those candidates who managed to earn the 12.5 percent of votes, as required under French law, to make it through. In some constituencies, round two means a three-way contest.

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Left-wing parties already hold a majority in the French Senate, and Socialist Party secretary Martine Aubry said that through the first round vote, the French people had “expressed their support for change,” Agence France Presse reported.

Polling companies in France predict that the Socialist Party and its allies will win between 283 and 347 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. The Socialists need 289 seats for an absolute majority.

Ahead of the vote, Hollande, had appealed to the French people to cast their ballot:

"I will only be able to bring about change, the change that the French have asked me to bring about, if I have a majority in the National Assembly."

The parliamentary elections come after France's Socialist Party defeated the UMP by a narrow margin of 29 to 27 percent in presidential elections on May 6.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/120611/france-parliamentary-elections-socialist-party-majority