President Hollande's Socialist party are poised to come out on top in parliamentary elections, according to exit polls. Hollande hopes to gain a majority in order to shore up his position within crisis-stricken Europe.
The French Socialists took the lead in the French parliamentary election on Sunday but it was unclear whether they had won a majority, according to exit polls. The polling institute CSA on Sunday reported that the French socialist bloc had won between 283 and 329 seats in France’s 577-seat parliament. It would need 289 seats for a majority. The conservative UMP party was tipped to win 210 to 263 seats. The Greens were estimated to have won between 12 and 18.
Marine Le Pen's National Front, which wants to leave the euro and is opposed to "Islamization" of France, snatched almost 14 percent of votes, said the exit polls.
CSA estimated turnout at 60 percent.
The elections come one month after socialist president Francois Hollande came to power, ousting the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the May.
Hollande badly needs to win a majority in the National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament. That would give the political left complete control over government, as the Socialist Party already has a majority in the Senate.
Consolidating domestic base
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 implementation of 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.
jlw, sej/mz (AP, Reuters, dpa)