French President Emmanuel Macron's majority in the National Assembly was on the line Sunday as French voters headed to the polls for the second round of parliamentary elections, The New York Times and The Guardian reported.
The centrist bloc supporting Macron, who won re-election by a comfortable margin in April, faces a strong challenge from a leftist alliance — the New Ecologic and Social People's Union (NUPES) — led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Polling conducted last week projected that Macron's coalition, Ensemble!, would win between 255 and 305 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. If Ensemble! falls short of the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority, it could seriously hinder Macron's ability to govern.
NUPES and Ensemble! finished last week's first-round elections in a virtual tie, each winning around 25 percent of the vote in an election with the lowest turnout of any first-round parliamentary contest since 1958.
Ahead of Sunday's election, Macron's allies pulled no punches, comparing Mélenchon to former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and warning of "Soviet regulation" if Mélenchon becomes prime minister. Mélenchon, who placed third in the first round of the presidential election, says he plans to overhaul France's constitution to decrease executive power.
During periods of "cohabitation" — when the French president and prime minister are from different parties — the president typically handles foreign relations while the prime minister sets domestic policy. The French president can temporarily delay bills passed by the National Assembly but does not have American-style legislative veto power.