The French people have thrown their weight convincingly behind their new president in parliamentary elections. Francois Hollande's Socialists and their allies are poised to secure a majority in the National Assembly.
The Socialists, the Greens and other leftist parties won around 46 percent of the vote, the Interior Ministry reported. That will give them up to 329 seats in the National Assembly. The left needs 289 seats for an absolute majority, which President Francois Hollande requires to realize his legislative aims.
The conservative UMP of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies fell to 34 percent, while the far-right Front National took 13.6 percent. The Communist-backed Left Front of Jean-Luc Melenchon won 6.9 percent.
Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on voters to give the government a "large, solid and coherent majority" in the second round so "the change you voted for on May 6 can be put in motion."
"If that is not the case, then the fair recovery of the country, with justice for all, cannot take place," he said.
The UMP did garner more votes than the Socialist Party, however they have no allies among the other parties.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen celebrated her party's takings, declaring it France's "third political force."
The final makeup of the National Assembly depends on the outcome of runoffs for 577 seats for which no candidate won an outright majority. They are to take place next Sunday.
The parliamentary elections are critical to shoring up President Hollande's base of domestic political support, as he seeks to push European partners - above all Germany - to renegotiate the fiscal pact and adopt a more growth-oriented approach to the eurozone debt crisis. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejects a reworking of the fiscal pact, she supports adopting a complementary growth pact.
Paris and Berlin also fundamentally disagree over the idea of introducing eurobonds, which would collectivize the eurozone's sovereign debt in a bid to control rising interest rates in crisis countries such as Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. However this would increase borrowing costs for strong economies such as Germany.
ncy/pfd (AFP, Reuters, AP)