Emmanuel Macron’s coalition level with a new leftist group in the French elections | France

Emmanuel Macron’s centrist group was neck and neck with a new left-wing alliance led by hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the vote share of the first round of legislative elections, according to initial projections.

A final week of frantic campaigning will begin ahead of the second round on Monday, as Macron’s centrists still hope to gain a head start but face uncertainty over their ability to win a crucial majority of seats in parliament.

A historic alliance of left-wing parties, led by Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise party and comprising the Socialists and Greens, was slightly ahead with 25.6% – a strong showing that presents a challenge to Macron. The centrist alliance of the president, Ensemble (Ensemble), should collect 25.2% of the votes, according to estimates by Ipsos-Sopra Steria for France Télévisions.

Turnout on Sunday would have hit a record high of around 47%, according to polling firms’ projections, after candidates described voters’ mood as angry and disillusioned with the political class. Olivia Grégoire, the government spokeswoman, said low turnout was the “key problem”.

Macron, who was re-elected president in April against far-right Marine Le Pen, needs a majority for his centrist group in the National Assembly to have a free hand on his proposals for tax cuts and changes to the social protection system.

The parliamentary results will set the balance of power for Macron’s second term, defining his ability to implement national policies such as raising the retirement age and overhauling the benefits system.

Mélenchon’s alliance – known as Nupes, or New Popular Ecological and Social Union – seeks to increase its seats and reduce the number of Macron’s centrists. The coalition’s platform includes a significant increase in the minimum wage, a lowering of the retirement age to 60 and a freeze on staple food and energy prices to tackle the cost crisis of life.

France’s first-past-the-post voting system, based on constituencies, means the exact number of seats for each group remains difficult to predict. The shape of the new parliament will only become clear after the second round on June 19.

Based on early estimates, Ispos predicted that Macron’s centrist alliance would win the largest share of parliament’s 577 seats – between 255 and 295 seats. This suggested there was a chance they might not achieve an outright majority, which requires 289 seats.

If Macron’s party and his allies fail to win a majority, it would be a setback for the president and could lead to messy bill deals with right-wing parties in parliament or an unwanted cabinet reshuffle.

The left alliance could take between 150 and 190 seats, according to Ipsos.

Macron and the ministers had stepped up their campaign this week, warning that Mélenchon was dangerous and an extremist who would kill the European Union, “align with Russia” and add to “global disorder”.

Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, which won eight seats in 2017, hopes this time to win at least 15 seats, allowing it to form a parliamentary group and gain greater visibility in the National Assembly. Ipsos suggested the party could take up to 45 seats. Although Le Pen came second in the presidential election with an all-time high of 41%, the first-past-the-post voting system for parliament has historically proven difficult for her party in legislative elections.

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Le Pen, from the stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont in northern France, called on her voters to run for her party against what she called Macron’s “brutal” political style. She said France was suffering, citing the cost of living crisis as well as the treatment of England fans in the Champions League final in Paris, seen as damaging to France’s image abroad .

Le Pen’s new far-right rival, former TV pundit Eric Zemmour, was knocked out in the first round after running in a constituency around Saint-Tropez in southern France.

The first weeks of the new government have been tense ahead of parliamentary elections, with hospital strikes and concerns over the cost of living, and Macron has been accused by Ukraine of being too accommodating to Russia .

Macron’s new disability minister, Damien Abad, faced two rape charges – which he denied – but which sparked street protests against women’s rights, while the new prime minister, Élisabeth Borne , has yet to have an impact.

Borne, who is running for the first time in a Norman seat, was well placed for the second round.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, Macron’s former education minister, was eliminated in the first round in Loiret.

Macron has made it clear that incumbent ministers who stand for election will have to resign if they lose.

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