French overseas voters give Macron the lead in parliamentary polls

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President Emmanuel Macron's bloc has come out on top in most of the 11 constituencies of French voters overseas who went to the polls on Sunday, ahead of the rest of France. The left posed a stronger challenge than in 2017, however, while former prime minister Manuel Valls, backed by Macron's party, was knocked out.

Eleven out of the 577 seats in parliament are reserved for geographical zones where French citizens live abroad, such as one for those in Canada and the United States and another for Central and Eastern Europe.

Macron's "Ensemble" ("Together") alliance won the largest number of votes this weekend in eight of them, while the left-wing coalition NUPES led by leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was ahead in two.

Ten out of the 11 constituencies that voted will see a second round run-off between Ensemble and NUPES on 18-19 June.

The left has improved its performance compared to 2017, when it qualified for the second round in five constituencies, thanks to an unprecedented alliance formed between left-wing parties to challenge the presidential majority this year.

Valls knocked out

The only candidate backed by Macron who did not make it through to the second round was Manuel Valls, a former Socialist prime minister under François Hollande, who ran in the Iberian peninsula constituency, covering Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Monaco.

Macron backed Valls at the expense of his 2017 candidate, Stéphane Vojetta, who went on to run a dissident campaign against Valls and won to face the left-wing candidate in the run-off.

"An election is a moment of truth," Valls tweeted in acceptance of defeat before deleting his Twitter account.

Absolute majority?

Voters in France will cast their ballots to elect 577 MPs in two rounds on 12 and 19 June.

To achieve an absolute majority and continue his programme of reforms, Emmanuel Macron needs a minimum of 289 seats in parliament.

An IFOP poll showed for the first time last week that Ensemble may fall short, winning 270-310 seats in the second round.

The poll gave NUPES 170-205 seats.

On the right, the Republicans were forecast to get 35-55 seats and the far-right National Rally (RN) was projected to win 20-50.

Mélenchon, who is running on a hard-left ticket with proposals to lower the retirement age, raise the minimum wage and offer more social and environmental protections, casts Macron as a liberal who will further unwind workers' rights and serve the interests of the rich.

If Macron wins a majority in parliament following his re-election as president, he has said his government's priorities will include action to combat climate change and raising the retirement age.

(with newswires)

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