Sarkozy's party set for to victory in legislative vote

4th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - France on Sunday entered a final week of campaigning for the first round of parliamentary elections, with President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party set to steamroll to victory.

PARIS, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - France on Sunday entered a final week of campaigning for the first round of parliamentary elections, with President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party set to steamroll to victory.

After winning the presidency last month, Sarkozy is poised to clinch a huge majority -- perhaps even a landslide -- that would allow him to push through his programme of ambitious reform in parliament.

A poll published Sunday showed the president's Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) picking up between 420 to 460 seats in the 577-member assembly, up from its current contingent of 359 deputies.

"The left is struggling, the right is sweeping everything," wrote the Journal du Dimanche weekly.

A total of 7,639 candidates representing more than 80 parties are running in the first round next Sunday and only those who garner 12.5 percent of the registered vote will move to the second round the following Sunday on June 17.

Some of those candidates however are expected to drop out of the race and in most constituencies the second round will be a straight run-off between the two top vote-getters.

With the left in disarray following the defeat of Socialist candidate Segolene Royal in the presidential vote, the parliamentary campaign has been largely a cakewalk for the UMP.

The governing party is riding on Sarkozy's coattails after polls showed the president, who took over from Jacques Chirac three weeks ago, is the most popular French leader since Charles de Gaulle.

"France has voted for change, for a rupture with the behaviour and the ideas of the past," Sarkozy told a rally of supporters in the northern city of Le Havre last week.

"I ask you to give me the majority I need to govern, and allow me to fufill all the commitments I have made," he said.

During an extraordinary session of the newly elected National Assembly scheduled from June 25 to August 10, a first batch of measures are to be adopted to relax the 35-hour workweek by exempting overtime from taxes and to abolish inheritance tax.

One popular measure on the books would allow French taxpayers to deduct interest from household mortgage payments, a change that Sarkozy has said will encourage homebuyers.

Parliament will also be asked to vote on two crime bills and a ban on "golden parachute" pay-outs after former top Airbus executive Noel Forgeard received 8.5 million euros (11.4 million dollars) from the embattled company.

The potentially most controversial piece of legislation would be a bill on granting universities more autonomy to allow them to be more selective and increase tuition fees.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon also plans to present an immigration bill to toughen criteria for allowing families to be reunited.

A draft law guaranteeing minimum services in transport during strikes -- another key test of Sarkozy's reform programme --  has been pushed back to September following a series of meetings between the president and union leaders. 

Of the 15 ministers in Fillon's government, 11 are running for parliament and have pledged to give up their cabinet seat if they are defeated.

An IFOP poll showed the Socialist Party would garner between 80 to 120 seats, down from its current 149 deputies while the Communist Party, which has 21 deputies, would get between 9 and 15 seats.

The Democratic Movement, a new party formed by centrist Francois Bayrou, who came in third in the presidential race, is to get between zero and four seats while the Greens could win up to two, down from the three they currently hold.

Finally, the nationalist Mouvement for France party would hold onto its two seats, according to the poll.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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