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Polls open in the second round of the French legislative elections

The key to the result will be whether Emmanuel Macron's Ensemble (Together) alliance manages to revalidate its current absolute majority
French President Emmanuel Macron

AFP/PHILIPPE WOJAZER  -   French President Emmanuel Macron

Polling stations in metropolitan France opened on Sunday for the second round of the legislative elections, in which the absolute majority of President Emmanuel Macron's alliance is at stake.

Abstention could be the big protagonist of the day, as it reached a record level of 52.49% in the first round last Sunday and polls predict that today it could reach new levels among the more than 48 million French people called to the polls.

The key to the result will be whether Emmanuel Macron's Ensemble (Together) alliance manages to revalidate its current absolute majority.

For the president, starting with a majority in the National Assembly is key to being able to push through his main reform projects, especially that of retirement pensions, flatly rejected by the left and the unions.

The four nationwide polls released on Friday, the last day they could be published, suggest that such an absolute majority is very difficult, but not impossible.

Macron's alliance currently has 350 seats out of 577 in the National Assembly, and the polls give it between 255 and 305 deputies.

In second place, with no chance of victory but a chance of wrecking Macron's control of the Assembly, will be the new alliance of left-wing and environmentalist parties (Nupes), with 140-210 seats.

Voting in the many overseas territories began on Saturday and has progressively spread to the American mainland, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands.

In metropolitan France, polling stations opened at 8am local time (6am GMT) and voting is open until 6pm in rural areas and small towns, and until 8pm in big cities.

Yesterday's abnormal heatwave, which saw record-breaking temperatures across much of the country, has been followed by a storm front that has brought instability to large parts of the country.