France's Hollande In Strong Parliament Position

Sunday’s vote left Hollande’s Socialist Party bloc likely to win the 289 seats it needs for an outright majority in the 577-seat National Assembly, and almost certain to do so with its Greens Party allies on board, polling institutes said.

The seat projections indicated Hollande may not need to rely on eurosceptic hard leftists to pass legislation, relieving him of a potential headache as Berlin pressures its partners to start moving towards a fiscal union in Europe.

“The realisation that the crisis is serious and that the government needs elbow room to get the country back on track is playing in favour of the government winning an absolute majority,” said Stephane Rozes at the CAP political consultancy.

Socialists were muted in their reaction, anxious to keep the pressure on supporters to vote in next Sunday’s runoff, but winning power in the lower house for the first time in a decade would be a triumph for the left after it took the Senate in 2011 and won the presidency in May after 17 years on the outside.

“Change is beginning,” Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, but warned: “Everything hinges on next Sunday.”

Hollande needs a coherent majority to back him on upcoming adjustments to the 2012 budget to reflect sickly growth and on a broad tax reform he plans for the weeks ahead that will raise taxes on the wealthy to fund his spending plans.

Even more crucial will be possible legislation in the months ahead to grant European Union institutions more power over national budgets, something that would be hard to get lawmakers outside his party and the general public to swallow. Reuters