French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to lose parliamentary majority, according to the first estimates of returns from Sunday's legislative elections.
The returns showed Macron's centrists appeared set to remain the biggest party in the National Assembly, or lower house, but with the far-left NUPES coalition scoring strongly as the biggest opposition bloc. Initial results also found the far right scoring historically high.
Earlier in the day, voters in the tossup Paris suburb of Neuilly Plaisance trickled out of city hall, shopping carts in tow. After casting their ballots, their next stops were the bakery and Sunday market to finish their errands.
Gregory, an electrician, had voted for the NUPES coalition. He said Macron was breaking everything the country had worked for regarding social and environmental issues.
NUPES was hoping for an upset victory that would force Macron to pick its leader, far-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon, as prime minister.
Michelle, another Neuilly Plaisance voter, said she believed that scenario would be a disaster. Certainly not the NUPES, she said. If they win, France will be in a mess.
Retiree Raymond offered a similar reaction. He said he doubted the feasibility of programs pushed by the leftist coalition. "Where’s the money to pay for them?" he asked.
Macron won a second term against his far-right rival Marine Le Pen just two months ago. But the abstention rate was high, and many French are underwhelmed by their president. Some criticized Macron for not campaigning enough for this crucial parliamentary vote, where this time his main rival was the far left.
These elections for the powerful National Assembly will be critical in determining whether Macron can push through fiscal and retirement reforms that mark his second-term agenda. The NUPES coalition has vowed to block them and enact tougher environmental policies.
Like the April presidential elections, these legislative elections have also been marked by high voter abstention.