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Turnout slightly up in French parliamentary election second round despite heatwave

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By Euronews  with AFP
A voter arrives at a voting station in Paris on 19 June 2022.
A voter arrives at a voting station in Paris on 19 June 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thomas Padilla

French voters are going to the polls in the second and final round of key parliamentary elections that will determine who will dominate the country's National Assembly for the next five years.

The participation in the second round of the legislative elections was slightly up Sunday at noon compared to the first round a week ago, in a decisive round seeing a united left face off against President Emmanuel Macron's party.

While parts of the country were still facing an unprecedented heat wave, the turnout for metropolitan France stood at 19.88% at noon according to the Ministry of the Interior -- a very slight increase (0.56%) compared to the first round a week ago as well as the second round in 2017, when it reached 17.75%.

At a polling station in the 8th district of Lyon, Wagner Théaud, a 39-year-old web developer accompanied by his son, "forgot to vote" in the first round because he "did not follow the campaign" but went to the polls this time.

At the exit of a polling station in Charenton, in the Val-de-Marne, Emmanuelle Ory, 53 years old head accountant, stated readiness to vote "in each election" because "there are countries where you can't vote so it's a right that we should not neglect".

"There are no programs that interest me. The last time I voted in a national election was 2012. I only vote in municipal elections, because the mayor does concrete things in the city," said Nassim Djilali, a 32-year-old consultant.

"We have been well received, we have been very lucky here, so it is a way to thank the country," said Mary Richards, 79, an American naturalized in the 1980s.

Mobilising voters difficult due to heat

More than 48 million French citizens are called to the polls for this second round where the presidential coalition hopes to win a new absolute majority -- needing 289 out of 577 deputies -- which it might struggle to reach according to the polls, given the expected breakthrough of the left united under the banner of NUPES.

Polling stations will close at 6 and 8 pm CET in major cities. The first estimates are expected at 8 pm.

The leader of NUPES Jean-Luc Mélenchon slipped a ballot into the ballot box in Marseille around 11 am. At almost the same time, Marine Le Pen voted in Henin-Beaumont. Emmanuel Macron also voted at mid-day at his usual polling station in Le Touquet.

Mobilising voters is a major issue as the country is experiencing a tremendous scorcher. More than one in two voters (52.5%) had abstained for the first round. In 2017 the French had deserted the polls in the second round even more than in the first, with 57.4% of abstention -- a record since 1958.

Lyon Mayor Gregory Doucet was pleased that the election was taking place "in good conditions on the city", despite the thermometer reaching 36 degrees Celsius on Sunday. 

"We made sure that everyone has enough water during the day [...] We put fans in the polling stations [where the heat is] more difficult to manage," Doucet added after casting the vote himself.

This second round closes a long electoral sequence that began on April 10 and the first round of the presidential election, which eventually led to the re-election of Macron ahead of Marine Le Pen.