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Macron's Party Projected To Win Massive Majority In French Parliamentary Elections


We want to start the program today overseas in France. Newly elected President Emmanuel Macron's party was expected to do well in today's first round of legislative elections, but not many people thought he'd do this well. Macron's party is expected to have a massive majority after next week's second round. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us from Paris. Eleanor, what do the results look like?

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Well, Lakshmi, it's stunning. Macron's party, Republic On The Move, could get as many as 430 seats out of 577 in the French Parliament. And a year ago, basically, the party didn't even exist. So he - 32 percent of the vote. The party the next closest is the mainstream conservative party with 20 percent. And remember Marine Le Pen and the National Front Party who did - she was in the presidential runoff with, you know, over 33 percent - their party, the far right, only got 13 percent, and she blamed that on the record-low turnout. Only 50 percent of voters came out to vote.

SINGH: You've spoken to some voters. What are they telling you?

BEARDSLEY: I can tell you why abstention rates might be so high. The weather's been great. And I was at a Paris park earlier, and you could just hear - there were hundreds of kids playing in the fountains there. But that's where I met - I spoke with Alain Pigard. He was a grandfather out with his grandkids.

ALAIN PIGARD: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: He didn't even vote for Macron's candidate in his district. But still, he loves Macron. He said he's brilliant. He's bringing a young, powerful presence to the presidency. And, you know, bringing France to the fore. He said the way he handled Putin at Versailles was stunning. He's setting the agenda. And, in fact, I couldn't find anyone who didn't like the new president, even if they hadn't voted for his party.

SINGH: Will Macron face any significant opposition in the legislature, Eleanor?

BEARDSLEY: You know, Lakshmi, if he wins that big, not really because the next party under will be the mainstream conservatives who pretty much support his reforms. In fact, many people are scared, such as far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who also ran for president. He's an anti-capitalist, and he warned about giving Macron too much power. He actually said Macron is about to do a hostile takeover of the French Parliament. He's sort of highlighting Macron's pro-business banker background. So I actually met some voters - they like Macron, but they are voting for another party just because they fear that he may indeed have too much power.

SINGH: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris. Thanks so much, Eleanor.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Lakshmi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
Lakshmi Singh is a midday newscaster and a guest host for NPR, which she joined in 2000.