French left set for majority in parliament

City A.M. Reporter
FRENCH President Francois Hollande was on track for a Socialist-led majority in parliament after a solid win in a first-round vote yesterday that should free him from having to rely on hard leftists hostile to European integration.

Hollande’s Socialist bloc looks likely to win the 289 seats needed for an outright majority in the 577-seat National Assembly in next Sunday’s run-off, and almost certain to do so with its Greens Party allies, polling institutes said.

While conservatives said this was no “pink wave”, winning power in the lower house for the first time in a decade would be a triumph for the left a year after it won control of the Senate and weeks after recapturing the presidency after 17 years. Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warned against over-confidence, telling voters: “This is just the first round. Everything hinges on next Sunday. Change is beginning.”

Hollande, who won the presidency five weeks ago, asked for a coherent majority as he steers France through the resurgent Eurozone debt crisis. Initial projections based on a partial vote count suggested Hollande’s core Socialist bloc could win 283 to 329 seats in the 577-member National Assembly in next Sunday’s runoff.