Macron party tops French parliamentary vote - partial official count


Emmanuel Macron's fledgling party seized a big lead in the French parliamentary election first round on Sunday, projected results polls showed, setting the president on course for a massive majority to push through his pro-business reforms.

The latest opinion polls forecast that Macron's centrist Republic On the Move (LREM) party and its center-right Modem allies will get at least 30 percent of the votes on Sunday, with the conservative The Republicans and its allies at around 20 percent and the far-right National Front around 17 percent.

"We want a big majority to be able to act and transform France over the next five years", Mounir Mahjoubi, a junior minister in Macron's government, told the Reuters news agency.

Pollsters' projected that as many as one-third of votes went to Macron's camp in the first stage of the two-part election - putting his candidates comfortably ahead of all opponents going into the decisive second round of voting next Sunday for the 577 seats in the lower-house National Assembly.

The projections for French media outlets showed Macron's La République en Marche (LRM) winning more than 32 percent of the vote. The party has put forward 266 women candidates, while 219 come from outside politics.

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Mr Macron called on French voters to give him a "majority to make changes" on the night of his victory on May 7.

Around 47 million people are eligible to vote.

Polls close at 8 p.m. local time (0600 GMT) in large towns and first estimates will follow.

More than 50,000 police were on patrol during the vote, with France still jittery after a wave of jihadist attacks across Europe.

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They include Marie Sara, a retired bullfighter, who is taking on Gilbert Collard, a senior member of Le Pen's National Front in southern France.

Most races involve several candidates in the first round and are whittled down to two in the second round.

If Macron fails to win the majority - 289 out of 577 seats - he would be required to build a coalition government. She hopes to be a strong opposition force, but her party is only projected to hold about a dozen seats.

Le Pen's party will struggle to win the 15 seats it would need to form a parliamentary group, being forecast to take only 10.

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