France is voting, and Macron is facing a tough battle for control of parliament

Initial estimates were expected at 20.00 locally from the election which could change the face of French politics.

The turnout at noon was slightly stronger – at 18.99% – than at the same time during a first round of elections last Sunday and than in 2017, when it reached 18.43% and 17.75% respectively.

Macron won another term in the April presidential election. If Sunday’s vote does not give his camp a clear majority, it will open a period of uncertainty that can be resolved by a degree of division of power between parties unheard of in France in recent decades – or result in political paralysis and repeated parliamentary elections down the line.

Investigators predict that Macron’s camp will end up with the largest number of seats, but say it is by no means guaranteed to reach the threshold of 289 for an absolute majority.

Opinion polls also show that the far right is likely to achieve its greatest parliamentary success in decades, while a broad left-green alliance could become the largest opposition group and the Conservatives find themselves king-makers.

In the city of Sevres just outside Paris, where light rain provided some relief after a major heat wave hit France on Saturday, some voters said they were motivated by environmental concerns to vote for the Nupes Left Alliance.

“Over the last 5 years, the presidential majority has not been able to meet the challenges of climate change – the current heat wave makes you want to support environmental projects even more,” said Leonard Doco, a 21-year-old film student. Reuters.

Others said they did not trust the leader of the left-wing bloc, the zealot Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has campaigned under the slogan “Choose me prime minister” and who promises to cut the retirement age to 60 from 62, freeze prices and ban companies from laying off workers if they pay dividends.

“Melenchon is a hypocrite. He makes promises that do not hold. Retiring at age 60 is impossible,” said Brigitte Desrez, 83, a retired dance teacher who voted for Macron’s party.

Overnight, the results of France’s foreign ministries brought bad news for Macron, and the maritime affairs minister lost in her Caribbean constituency. About 15 ministers are running in this election, and Macron has said they must quit if they lose.

Rejuvenated left

Macron seeks to raise the retirement age and pursue its pro-business agenda and further EU integration.

After electing a president, French voters have traditionally used legislative polls that follow a few weeks later to give him a comfortable parliamentary majority – with Francois Mitterrand in 1988 a rare exception.

Macron and his allies could still achieve that.

But the rejuvenated left poses a tough challenge, as inflation puts the cost of living at the forefront of many voters’ minds.

If Macron and his allies miss out on an absolute majority with only a few seats, they could be tempted to steal MPs from the center-right or conservatives, officials in those parties said.

If they miss it by a larger margin, they can either seek an alliance with the Conservatives or run a minority government that must negotiate laws with other parties on a case-by-case basis.

Although Macron’s camp wins an absolute majority, it is probably thanks to his former prime minister, Edouard Philippe, who will demand more to say about what the government does.

Regardless of how Sunday’s vote goes, the president is likely to enter a new period of having to make more compromises, after five years of undisputed control since his first election in 2017.