Go vote, parties tell French voters ahead of run-off

Parties across the political spectrum have urged French voters to vote massively to tilt the outcome either way as opinion polls forecast the anti-immigration National Rally will be the largest party but fall short of an absolute majority.

Marine Le Pen's European Union-sceptic party topped the parliamentary election's first round with a third of the vote but after a subsequent series of tactical withdrawals of candidacies from mainstream parties aimed at boosting whoever is best placed to beat the National Rally (RN), several surveys have projected a drop in the number of seats it could win, making an absolute majority even harder to reach.

Le Pen, who has said the "republican front" of mainstream parties shows disdain for her voters, urged them to prove pollsters wrong in the decisive run-off election on Sunday.

"I get the impression that all this is designed to demotivate our voters. Fortunately, I know them and I know they're highly motivated, so I tell them, really do go and vote," Le Pen told Europe 1 radio and CNews TV.

"We need everybody," she said on the last official day of campaigning ahead of Sunday's vote.

An OpinionWay poll for French business daily Les Echos projected the RN winning 205-230 seats, ahead of the progressive New Popular Front (NFP) with 145-175 seats, and President Emmanuel Macron's centrist bloc with 130-162 seats.

Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen is urging voters to give her National Rally party a majority in run-off elections. (AP PHOTO)

An Ipsos poll forecast the RN would get 175-205 seats and Ifop pollsters gave an 170-210 estimate.

For a ruling majority, 289 seats are needed in the National Assembly.

But European Parliament politician Raphael Glucksmann, one of the political leaders of the NFP, warned no one should take those polls for granted.

"Commentators and politicians already speak as if the RN had no absolute majority and congratulate themselves on their efforts to block it ... I think that could demobilise voters, and I am worried. There is a tidal wave in favour of the National Rally," he told RTL radio.

Much uncertainty remains including whether voters will go along with these efforts to block the RN, pollsters say.

"The big unknown is the size of the republican front ... will a left-wing voter cast a ballot for a right-wing candidate or a Macron camp candidate?" IFOP pollster Jerome Fourquet said on RMC radio.

So much was up in the air that a progressive alliance outpacing the RN could not be entirely ruled out in the end, he said.

If the vote is in line with the latest surveys, the election will deliver a hung parliament.

Options would include attempting to pull together a coalition, a party running a minority government or naming a caretaker government that would aim to strike deals on each legislative proposal.

Any of those scenarios would likely spell political uncertainty and obstruct policy-making, stunting economic reform efforts.

As the tense campaign was wrapping up, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that at least 51 candidates and their supporters had been physically harmed, quite a few of them while putting up campaign posters.

"Outbreaks of violence are to be feared on Sunday," he told BFM TV, after he decided to step up the police presence and ban a planned far-left demonstration at the National Assembly on voting day.