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France to Hold Another Election for New Government - 2002-06-14


French voters go to the polls Sunday for the fourth time in eight weeks to complete the selection of a new government. It appears French voters will give President Jacques Chirac's right-of-center coalition an overwhelming parliamentary majority.

About 50 rightist candidates, most of them members of Mr. Chirac's coalition, have already won seats in the next parliament because they received an absolute majority in the first round of voting.

Polls indicate that as many as 400 of the 577 seats could go to Mr. Chirac's supporters when the votes are tallied from Sunday's second-round balloting. However there is still some uncertainty about the outcome.

In some districts, three or more candidates will face off after surviving the first round by winning at least 12.5 percent of the vote. They include 37 members of the extreme right National Front.

Only one or two of the National Front candidates are expected to win seats on Sunday. That means this election, like many before it, comes down to a choice between the moderate left and the moderate right.

The Socialists are doing everything they can to turn out voters who skipped the last election when a record 35 percent of the electorate did not vote.

Normally, a higher turnout would help the left. But this time, a majority of French voters say they want to put an end to the power sharing of the past.

And since they have just re-elected a rightist president, the only question now may be how large a parliamentary majority the right will have.

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