Hollande could manage a narrow manageable majority in Sunday’s election
The latest opinion polls released ahead of France's parliamentary election on Sunday suggest President Francois Hollande will win a narrow but workable majority that depends on Green allies and hard leftists.
Surveys by pollsters BVA, Ipsos and Harris pointed to Hollande's Socialist Party falling just short of the 289 seats it needs for a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly, the lower house, and allies winning some three dozen seats.
After winning the first Socialist presidential victory since 1988 last month, Hollande has urged supporters to show out in force on Sunday as he readies legislation to back his tax-and-spend campaign programme.
Bills to raise taxes on the rich and reverse a rise in sales tax should be backed by the hard left, but a too-narrow majority would leave Hollande dependent on conservatives and centrists for possible measures on closer European integration.
Paris is coming under pressure to agree to allow EU institutions more control over public finances, as Berlin proposes steps towards fiscal union as its condition for considering mutualized debt or an integrated bank sector to help solve the euro zone crisis.
Although the resurgent crisis is fast becoming Hollande's biggest concern three weeks into his presidency, he must also work quickly on domestic measures to reboot the stalled economy and curb a surge in jobless claims to a 12-year high.
I call on the French to vote, Hollande said on a visit to northern France, as surveys predicted around 40% of voters would stay at home. I call on them to give a large majority, a solid and coherent one.
The BVA survey gave core left-wing parties 32.5%, or 36.5% with Hollande's Green allies added and 44.5% with the hard left. That compares to 33.5% for a conservative grouping.
Harris Interactive gave left-wing parties 34% of the vote, or 46% with Greens and the hard left, versus 33% for the mainstream right.
An Ipsos poll conducted for the left-leaning daily Le Monde gave the left 31.5%, or 41% with the hard left and Greens, versus 34.5% for the conservative bloc.
Ipsos said its results could translate into between 292 and 346 seats for the left and between 231 and 285 seats for the right, giving the left control of the lower house for the first time in a decade, after it won control of the Senate last year.
Within the seat projections, Ipsos saw the Socialist Party winning between 243 and 285 seats, the hard-left Left Front winning 23-26 seats and the Greens 12-16 seats.
It saw the far-right National Front, which took an unexpected 17.9% of a first-round presidential vote in late April, winning anywhere between zero and three seats.
The election will be taking place after the Bank of France revealed on Friday an austere growth projection, saying the economy was on course to shrink by 0.1% in the second quarter.
If the estimates are correct, it would represent France's first quarterly contraction since the country managed to extract itself from recession in 2009. Although the current alleged shrinkage would not put France back into recession territory, if the economy were to experience a second contraction in the third quarter, the country would officially join other EU states like Greece, Spain and Italy in recession.
The forecast contrasts with the central bank's prior projection of essentially flat-line growth in the three months from April to June.
The news comes after the French national statistics office, INSEE, reported on Thursday that unemployment rose to one in ten people in the first quarter of 2012, a level of joblessness that the country has not endured since 1999.