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French Parliamentary Elections 2017

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Second round turnout down in French parliamentary elections

A man casts his vote at a polling station in Carhaix-Plouguer, western France, during the second round of the French parliamentary elections (elections legislatives in French) on June 18, 2017. Fred TANNEAU/AFP

Voter turnout in the second round of the French legislative election reached 17.75% at midday Paris time, suggesting that President Emmanuel Macron’s expected landslide victory could be marred by one of the lowest turnout in French modern history.

Turnout in the second round of France's parliamentary election Sunday was sharply down on the last vote five years ago, official statistics showed. By midday only 17.75 percent of the electorate had cast a ballot, down from 21.41 percent at the same time in the 2012 election and 19.24 percent in the June 11 first round of voting.

Macron’s start-up LREM is barely more than a year old and as many
as three quarters of lawmakers are likely to be political novices, something which will change the face of parliament at the expense of the conservative and socialist parties which have ruled France for decades.

Turnout will be closely watched after it hit a nearly 60-year low for the first round of voting, leading some to warn Macron his mandate is not as strong as he thinks.

"Go and vote!" Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday. "It's the same message here as everywhere else: no one should abstain. In France voting is not obligatory... it is a right and a responsibility."

In the first round, REM won 32 percent of the total number of votes cast, but this represented only about 15 percent of the total number of registered voters.

Around half of REM's candidates are virtual unknowns drawn from diverse fields of academia, business or local activism. They include a mathematician, a bullfighter and a former Rwandan orphan.

The other half of Macron's loyalists are a mix of centrists and moderate left- and right-wing politicians drawn from established parties including ally MoDem.