French voters go to polls in second round of Parliament elections

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The Interior Ministry said Sunday night that with 513 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly definitively decided, Macron's Republic on the Move! party and its centrist allies had definitively won 303. Opinion polls before the vote had projected Macron could win as many as 470 seats.

Macron's rivals have urged voters not to stay at home, warning power could be too concentrated in the hands of one party and democratic debate stifled. Marine Le Pen's National Front is winning 8 mandates, while Jean-Luc Melenchon's Unsubmissive France is gaining 16 seats. By midday Sunday, only 17.75 percent of voters had cast a ballot, down from the 21.41 percent recorded at the same time of day during the 2012 parliamentary run-off vote.

With 82 percent of the votes counted, Macron's party had 42 percent of the vote, the conservative Republicans 22 percent, the far-right National Front 10 percent and the Socialists only 6 percent. Aram... after a strong victory in the first round of voting last week...

Since his inauguration Macron has sought to restore lost prestige to the presidency, delivering his victory speech in front of the Louvre museum - a former royal palace - and hosting Putin at the palace of Versailles.

While REM will hold a huge majority in parliament, Macron could struggle to get his plans for far-reaching labour reforms past the fiery French streets where hard-left trade unions are gearing up for a fight. He said his determination is "total" to work on major reforms in the coming months.

"We are the only force of resistance to the dilution of France, its social model and identity", Le Pen said in a televised address in her northern fiefdom of Henin-Beaumont.

The 39-year-old even tried to intimidate US President Donald Trump with a memorable white-knuckle handshake at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and later mocked his decision to pull the United States out of the global Paris accord to combat climate change. "Emmanuel Macron's triumph is uncontestable, the defeat of the left is unavoidable, and the defeat of the Socialist party is irrevocable." said the party's leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, who has now resigned.

A former environment minister from the moderate faction of the right-wing Republicans, 44-year-old Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet was beaten by a Macron-backed business consultant on the Left Bank of Paris - a conservative bastion. Le Pen was handily defeated by Macron in the May 7 presidential vote.

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May's two predecessors as Tory PM, David Cameron and John Major, likewise urged her to reconsider her posture. If she manages to remain in Downing St at all, it will be with a Cabinet demanding more collegial decisions.

While French voters have handed past presidents large majorities in parliament, what's different this time is that Macron's party is splitting - and therefore weakening - the opposition.

The turnout was much lower than in past legislative elections.

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of late French General Charles de Gaulle's appeal of June 18, 1940, at the Mont Valerien memorial in Suresnes, outside of Paris, on June 18, 2017.

Melenchon's resurgent France Unbowed and the Communist Party were on course to win 26 to 30 seats.

That would allow Macron to move fast with promised legislation, notably on changing labor laws to make hiring and firing easier.

The Republicans hung on to between 97 and 130 seats, down from over 200 in the last parliament, and remain the main opposition party.

"The rise of Macron to the presidency seems to have plunged the country into a state of indifference and weariness", far-right leader Marine Le Pen said after she secured a seat in the parliament for the first time on Sunday.

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