World Bulletin / News Desk
French voters went back to the polls on Sunday for the first round of parliamentary elections that are predicted to give President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party a commanding majority.
Macron has enjoyed a political honeymoon since he beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to become France's youngest-ever president on May 7, naming a cabinet that crosses left-right lines and making an assured impression in meetings with US President Donald Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
But the 39-year-old president has only done half the job. His Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move, REM) party, which he only founded 14 months ago, now needs a clear majority in the National Assembly for him to push through the reforms he promised in his campaign.
The centre-right Republicans and the Socialists fear heavy losses after their candidates failed to reach the presidential run-off for the first time in France's post-war history.
Some predictions indicate REM could win around 400 seats in the 577-seat chamber as voters seek to give the new president a strong mandate.
The party has already come first in 10 of the 11 French overseas constituencies that voted before the mainland.
However few MPs are expected to be elected in the first round.
If no candidate wins over 50 percent, the two top-placed contenders go into the second round -- as well as any candidate who won the votes of over 12.5 percent of the electorate.
Around 47 million people are eligible to vote. Polling stations in the largest cities were to remain open until 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) with exit polls released immediately afterwards.
More than 50,000 police were on patrol in a country still under a state of emergency following a wave of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 230 people since 2015.
In the latest incident, a 40-year-old self-radicalised Algerian was shot and wounded after he attacked a policeman with a hammer outside Paris' Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday.Last Mod: 11 Haziran 2017, 13:04