Voting is underway in France in a general election that comes just a month after Socialist Francois Hollande defeated conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential poll.
The question now is whether the Left can win enough seats in the lower house of parliament to push through Hollande’s programme to lift the eurozone’s second largest economy out of the doldrums.
The Right has been campaigning hard against handing the Socialists too much power while Hollande’s camp has been urging the French to give it a clear mandate.
Polls suggest the new president is unlikely to get an out and out majority.That is when the more extreme parties come in. They are locked in a symbolic battle in one constituency where the National Front’s Marine Le Pen faces leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Melanchon. The contest has attracted much media attention but may not be decided today.
This is just the first round of this ballot. Most of the 577 seats up for grabs are expected to go to a runoff in a week’s time.
One key issue will be turnout. With the dust barely settled from the presidential poll, many French say they are are suffering from voter fatigue.