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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

France Heads to Polls Again

PARIS -- France voted in a parliamentary election Sunday, with President Jacques Chirac's center-right allies expected to win but low voter turnout threatening to help Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front.

Many voters were more interested in watching the World Cup and enjoying sunny weather, and abstentions risked playing a role in the outcome of the two-round vote, whose second round is next Sunday.

Turnout in the first four hours of polling until noon was 19.73 percent of the electorate, down from 22.74 percent at the same point in the last election five years ago, the Interior Ministry said.

Pollsters say Chirac's allies should score a comfortable majority in the two-round vote, securing the head of state power to push through planned reforms on tax and crime rather than "cohabit" again with a Socialist government.

A low turnout risked boosting the National Front's performance. Voter apathy in April's first round of presidential elections helped Le Pen qualify for a runoff against Chirac in May.

Le Pen was full of his trademark bravado in an interview with Sunday's Welt am Sonntag German newspaper.

"We want 310 deputies in the National Assembly ... in order to be able to build a government and force Chirac out of office," he said.