French Election Results: Marine Le Pen Out, Francois Hollande and the Socialist Get Absolute Majority


Six weeks after François Hollande was voted in as president of France, French voters have decided to give the president an absolute majority in the parliament, which is necessary to implement his program but also to deal with the deepening euro crisis.

According to the final results released by the Interior Ministry, the Socialist Party and its close allies have won 314 of the 577 assembly seats. This is 25 seats more than the absolute majority required (289). 

The stakes were high for Hollande, as 25 ministers from the new government were on Sunday's ballot and faced the threat of being booted from the new Hollande government. The vote was also a referendum on Hollande's early tenure: If these 25 ministers failed to get elected it would have meant that the French electorate did not agree with the current composition of government.

The defeat was crushing for the former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, the UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire). The right-wing party only got 194 seats, finding itself in the opposition side for the first time since its formation in 2002. It has lost nearly 100 seats in the hemicycle, considered the heaviest defeat of the party since 1981. Together with its conservative allies the party only totaled 229 seats.

The ballot was also marked by the historic return of the Front National (FN) representatives into parliament. The extreme leftist party has managed to place two members in the Assembly this election, and former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's22-year old niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, will became youngest parliament member in the history of the FifthRepublic.

Marine Le Pen was defeated by her socialist rival by only 118 votes for her parliamentary seat. She has already called for a vote recount and warned that she would file for an appeal at the Constitutional Council, if necessary. But it is highly unlikely that she will change any.

The FN had not been elected at the Palais Bourbon (the Assembly) since 1986, when the proportional representation allowed them to have 35 representatives. Nonetheless, their victory is purely symbolic and they will sit as non-registered members.With FN's small representation, they will have a reduced speech time and could only ask one question every two months.

This election was also the one of records. Participation was low, with only 66% of the 46 million French voters making it to the polls on Sunday. According to the Ministry of Interior, the abstention rate reached nearly 44%, which is a record in the Fifth Republic. This tarnishes the legitimacy of the newly elected assembly.

Women representatives were also elected in high numbers. One hundred-fifty five women managed to secure seats in the parliament (107 in the previous elections), which is an unprecedented case in France but still far from parity, as 422 men were elected.

After 17 years absence, Francois Hollande and the socialists are back and have now a free hand to implement their program, ranging from an ambitious tax reform to the promise of industrial recovery. They now have all the levers of power and are all alone to face their responsibilities.