French President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance was on track to win the largest number of seats in parliament, projections from polling firms showed, though it remains unclear if it will obtain a majority.

If Macron's coalition falls short of a majority, it is expected to lead to messy bill-by-bill deals with right-wing parties in parliament.
If Macron's coalition falls short of a majority, it is expected to lead to messy bill-by-bill deals with right-wing parties in parliament. (Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron has been in danger of falling short of a parliamentary majority after a first round of voting, with some polling firms seeing his centrist alliance scoring less than the 289 seats required.

Macron's Ensemble (Together) alliance ran neck and neck with a new leftwing alliance, NUPES, with both scoring around 25-26 percent of the popular vote on Sunday.

Extrapolating from these figures, polling firms projected that Ensemble would win 225 to 310 seats in the second round of voting next Sunday, possibly short of a majority.

NUPES, a newly unified leftwing alliance of leftists, Socialists, Greens and Communists, was seen as winning 150 to 220 seats, making them by the far the biggest opposition force in parliament.

If Macron's coalition falls short of a majority, it is expected to lead to messy bill-by-bill deals with right-wing parties in parliament, or he would have to try to poach opposition or independent MPs for his political grouping.

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Record-low turnout expected

Le Pen's far-right National Rally was seen as winning 10 to 45 seats nationally, potentially sharply increasing the party's representation in parliament from its current eight seats.

Turnout was on course to be a record low of 47 to 47.5 percent, polling firm projections showed.

The record-low turnout of below 50 percent is set to confirm the trend of dwindling interest for parliamentary elections over the past 20 years.

Under France's system, a candidate needs over half the vote on the day as well as the backing of at least 25 percent of registered voters in a constituency to be elected outright in the first round.

Otherwise the top two candidates in a constituency, as well as any other candidate who won the backing of at least 12.5 percent of registered voters, go forward to the second round, where the candidate with the most votes wins.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies