France Votes in Key General Elections
France is holding Sunday the first round of key general elections, with polls forecasting a victory for the left wing.
The end results, however, depend largely on voter turnout, which is expected to be low.
The first round voting is for the lower house and will be followed by run-offs a week later.
The result of the parliamentary election will determine the pace of reform and how radical it becomes, the BBC correspondent in Paris says, noting that if the Socialist Party of the newly-elected President Francois Hollande can win a majority, he will have the mandate to push through bold tax and spend policies.
The right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) - the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy - is defending an absolute majority in the current National Assembly.
There is also a closely watched battle between the far right and the far left.
The far-right National Front is hoping to follow up a strong performance in the recent presidential election by gaining its first presence in the 577-seat National Assembly since the 1980s. One of the main stories of the presidential election was the third place finish of the National Front's Marine Le Pen.
Despite predictions that the left-wing will easily secure majority by winning more than the required 289 seats, a majority Socialist government is unlikely and they might seek coalition with the far-left.
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