Socialists to Be Largest Group in France’s Parliament

Sunday, 10 Jun 2012 03:41 PM

French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party will have the largest number of seats in parliament, exit polls for the first round of the country’s legislative elections today showed.

Hollande will have to wait until the June 17 second round to know if he has an absolute majority or will need allies in parliament. In any of the 577 constituencies where no candidate took more than 50 percent in the first round, contenders with 12.5 percent of the vote progress to the next round.

Without a majority in parliament, a French president is reduced to a figurehead in domestic policy, retaining only some room for maneuver on foreign and military policy. President Jacques Chirac couldn’t prevent a Socialist-led parliament from cutting the French work week to 35 hours in 2000. President Francois Mitterrand was powerless to stop a conservative government in the early 1990s from selling companies he’d nationalized the previous decade.

In today’s election, the Socialist Party and its Green and Left Front allies took 47.1 percent of the popular vote. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement and its allies got 35.4 percent.

Socialist Parliament

The Socialists alone will win between 270 and 300 seats in the second round, Ipsos forecast, with 289 needed for a majority.

Together with the Radical Left Party, the Greens, and the Left Front, who all disagree with the Socialist Party on some issues even though they have said they will support Hollande’s government, the Socialist bloc will have at least 305 seats and maybe as many as 353 seats, Ipsos predicted.

UMP will have between 227 and 266 seats, Ipsos said, not enough to control parliament.

The anti-euro National Front, which had 13.4 percent of the popular vote, will win between zero and two seats, Ipsos forecast.

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