By Brian Love, Reuters
PARIS |Â Â France votes on Sunday in the first round of an election tipped to give the left control of parliament and consolidate President Francois Hollande’s grip on power as he seeks to ease the pain of a debt crisis in Europe.
Voting stations open at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and close at the latest at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), when early returns should give an indication of the size of what polls predict will be a victory for the Socialists and their allies.
At stake in the vote for the 577-seat National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, is Hollande’s ability to rule unfettered as he seeks to reboot Europe’s second-largest economy, curb rising unemployment and erase a government overdraft without exposing voters to welfare cuts and Greek-style austerity.
A second and final round of voting takes place on June 17, determining the makeup of an assembly that Holland, at the start of a five-year term, hopes will cooperate in the implementation of his tax-and-spend program.
France’s Senate, the upper house of parliament, is already under left-wing control.
The 57-year-old Socialist, who unseated conservative Nicolas Sarkozy on May 6 and was sworn in mid-May, also needs all the help he can get as he lobbies European leaders, chief among them German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to do more for economic growth.
To read more, visit: Â http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/09/us-france-election-idUSBRE8550D620120609
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