French Elections 2012: Francois Hollande and Socialists Will Get Majority in Parliament

Nearly a month after Francois Hollande’s victory in the French presidential election, 46 million French voters will be heading back to the polls this Sunday to elect the remaining representatives on the second round of legislative elections. 

According to various predictions by polling agencies, the newly elected French president and his Socialist Party (PS) are assured of having an absolute majority in the “Palais Bourbon” (National Assembly). Indeed, the latest seats projection poll from Ifop institute has revealed that the PS (along with its allies) would win between 297 and 332 seats (the absolute majority is reached with 289 seats).

Of the 577 vacant parliamentary seats, only 36 were allocated during the first round on June 10. The parliamentary election is especially important because it will determine the future of the country. By giving, or not, the new government a majority, people will be simply deciding whether or not they want François Hollande to implement his campaign promises.  However, even if the PS fails to get a majority on its own,  it can always count on its other left-wing allies (the Ecologists and the Front Left party) in the parliament.

Things are a little different for their main opponent, the right-winged party UMP. Since the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential election, its leaders had anticipated another setback in the parliamentary elections. Their goal was to avoid a debacle, and given the first round results the party has succeeded to limit the damage. 

With 34.67% of votes in the first round, the UMP and its allies (centrists, and other small right-winged parties) are projected to have between 210 and 247 seats. This however implies a hundred seats less than what they had in the parliament. Yet they were hoping to get the majority of seats and form a cohabitation government so as to prevent the implementation of Hollande’s program. In that case, the French president would have been forced to designate a prime minister -- thus a new government -- from the opposite camp.

As for Marine Le Pen, she has failed to halt the traditional erosion of her party, that always occur, between the presidential and legislative elections. Indeed, the Front National only scored 13.6% in the first round. This score is less than that what was predicted by the polls (between 14% and 16%) and it is below the 17.9% she got in the first round of presidential elections. 

Nonetheless, the far-right party will probably make its return in the National Assembly. They have already managed to place 35 representatives in the parliament between 1986 and 1988. And according to the seats projection polls, the extreme right party would get up to 3 seats this time. But whatever the result, it will represent a victory to the Le Pen’s clan.

Most politics experts believe that if the Socialist Party takes the majority of seats in the parliament on Sunday, it would send strong signals in and outside the country. François Holland would be seen as a strong president by his European partners and that might facilitate talks, especially with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

However, until the last polling station closes and all votes are counted nothing is really done for the Socialist Party, warns Ifop; especially because of the uncertainties related to vote transfer (of defeated candidates) and the second round's turnout.