UPDATE - Turnout in 2nd round of critical snap elections in France over 26% at midday

UPDATE - Turnout in 2nd round of critical snap elections in France over 26% at midday

President Macron may deliver speech after voting ends, interior minister deploys 30,000 police across country to prevent violence

CHANGES DECK, ADDS MORE DETAILS, REMARKS FROM PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON

EDITS THROUGHOUT

By Nur Asena Erturk

The turnout in the second round of legislative elections in France on Sunday was 26.63% at midday, according to the Interior Ministry.

This turnout is much higher than that in the 2022 elections at the same hour, which was 18.99%, and in the first round last week, which was 25.9% at midday.

President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, and other officials went to their respective polling stations to cast their ballots, French media reported.

Macron may deliver a speech tonight after the voting ends, according to daily Le Figaro.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin previously told broadcasters RMC-BFMTV on Friday that 30,000 police and gendarmerie officers, including 5,000 in Paris, would be deployed on Sunday evening.

Darmanin said authorities expect tensions and violence in the capital as well as other cities such as Lyon, Nantes and Rennes, where there are groups of far-right and far-left.

Shops in Paris covered their windows with barricades in central Paris to avoid damages, BFMTV reported.

More than 43 million registered voters headed to the polling stations as of 8 a.m. (0600GMT) to elect the remaining 501 members of the National Assembly, the lower chamber of parliament, for a five-year term as the country finds itself at a crucial political crossroads.

The first round of the elections took place on June 30 with a turnout of over 65% and over 49 million voters cast ballots.

Some 76 candidates were elected in the first round for the National Assembly that has a total of 577 seats. The second round is not organized in those constituencies.

The far-right National Rally (RN) got 29.26% of the vote by itself (37 seats), a rate that rises to over 33% when combined with its allies, according to official election results.

The left-wing alliance New Popular Front (NFP) got 28.06% (32 seats), and the centrist Together for the Republic alliance backed by President Emmanuel Macron finished third with slightly over 20.04% (two seats).

A political party or alliance needs at least 289 seats to secure a majority in the National Assembly.

Macron dissolved parliament and announced snap elections after the RN swept more than 31% of the vote in the European Parliament elections on June 9, defeating his centrist bloc.

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