French voters are now casting their ballots in the initial round of the country’s unexpected parliamentary elections, a pivotal event that could reshape President Emmanuel Macron’s political landscape, CNN reported.

The outcome may determine whether Macron’s centrist coalition retains power or if France faces a period of political cohabitation with the far-right National Rally (RN), led by Marine Le Pen.

Voting commenced at 8 am local time (2 am ET), marking the start of the process to elect the 577 members of the National Assembly. This election, scheduled three years ahead of the regular term, follows a significant setback for Macron’s Renaissance party in the recent European Parliament elections, where the RN emerged victorious.

Responding swiftly to this defeat, Macron opted for the snap election, the first in France since 1997, acknowledging the electorate’s message, as reported by CNN. Regardless of the election’s outcome, Macron has committed to serving until the next presidential elections in 2027.

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