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Macron camp talks up electoral reform plan

New French President Emmanuel Macron’s government reaffirmed on Friday its plan for electoral reform as the scale of the likely parliamentary majority it is set to win grew and predicted voter turnout shrank.

Two opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s second round of parliamentary elections said the centrist president and his one year-old Republic on the Move (LREM) party would win 80 percent or more of the seats in the lower house of parliament.

Those are the highest predictions of the campaign to date, and follow record-low voter turnout in the first round. Macron’s opponents warn that such a majority in a country with deep political divisions is a threat to democracy.

LREM’s dominance of parliament would be the biggest in decades by any party, even though it gathered only about a third of votes in round one.

Over half of the electorate did not vote, and many said they saw no purpose in doing so. Thursday’s polls show even fewer will turn out in round two.

France’s two-round voting system, used in all types of elections including the April-May presidential contest that took Macron into power, eliminates low-scoring candidates in the first round.

Thanks to this system, and to electoral pacts aimed at keeping National Front candidates out of parliament, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who won the support of a third of voters in the presidential election, looks set to get nothing like that representation in the legislature.

Polls show she could end up with only a handful of seats in the 577-strong National Assembly. Left and far-left lawmakers are also expected to be few in number.

“We will ask parliament to work on this subject,” technology minister Mounir Mahjoubi said on France 2 television.

“By introducing a dose of proportional representation parties that get such (low) scores would have more representation. That would be fairer, and above all it would improve debate.”

Polls by Opinionway and Harris Interactive on Thursday showed LREM and its centre-right Modem ally winning between 440 and 470 seats in the lower house, a majority unseen since conservative President Charles De Gaulle won over 80 percent of the house in 1968. (Reuters)

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