French see no one to counter Macron, set to sweep parliament

The turnout rate was 41% by late afternoon

The turnout rate was 41% by late afternoon

They also blamed the long election cycle, with party primaries that started a year ago before the two rounds of presidential and then legislative voting, for turning voters off.

The conservative Republicans had 16 percent, followed by the far-right National Front with 14 percent.

Jean-Luc Melenchon's far-left party had 11 percent, while the Socialists of former President Francois Hollande tumbled to 7 percent.

Turnout was estimated at less than 49 percent, a record low for modern France.

After the projections were announced, a government spokesman said voters had shown they wanted to move fast on major reforms.

The party leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, lost the Paris seat he had held for 20 years.

Cambadelis called on voters to favor more political pluralism in the second round.

Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe, who was appointed by Mr Macron last month, announced "France is back" as the results rolled in.

But Macron's impressive performance in his first month, coupled with astute moves, including naming an LR deputy as prime minister, took the wind from their sails.

Speaking from the far-right stronghold of Henin-Beaumont in northern France, Le Pen, trying for the fourth time to win a seat in parliament, said she is well ahead in the constituency where she is running "more than 45 percent".

The Republicans and its allies look set to form the main opposition to LREM, with between 70 and 110 seats.

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Francois Baroin, the campaign leader for the Republicans party, noted that "the level of abstention ... demonstrates the persistence of divides in French society".

"For the third time in a row, millions of you have confirmed your support for the president of the republic's policy of renewal, unity and reconquest", Philippe said in a televised statement.

While Macron's party is confident, the more traditional parties are expected to struggle.

According to the French Interior Ministry, Macron's La Republique En Marche! movement - in alliance with the centrist MoDem party - gained 32.32 percent of the vote.

Conceding that the party was facing "unprecedented" losses, Cambadelis appealed to voters to rally behind Macron's rivals to avoid the president monopolising power.

But turnout was sharply down, at 48.7% compared with 57.2% in the first round in 2012, which analysts say reflected a sense of resignation among Mr Macron's opponents.

Following the first result of parliamentary competition's first leg, LREM and its allies were likely to win between 415 and 455 seats out of the 577-seat lower house of parliament, securing a landslide majority.

But while Macron's LRM party is pushing traditional parties into irrelevance, it is not getting a strong mandate from French voters. Only three candidates won seats outright in the first round, officials said.

For those sakes, many of them simply did not showed up on Sunday at the polling stations to cast their votes.

The president needs a strong majority in order to push through his promised reforms of France's strict labor laws, and its ailing social security system.

"Emmanuel Macron is set to pull off the most spectacular grand slam of the Fifth Republic", wrote Laurent Joffrin of the left-leaning Liberation daily.