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More women, far younger: France's new MPs

© AFP/File / by Robin GREMMEL, Daphné BENOIT | Laetitia Avia rose from humble beginnings in a family of Togolese immigrants to found her own legal practice and became one of the few French women of African origin to have ever won a parliamentary seat


The French parliament has been transformed by the overwhelming victory of President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party in elections.

The new parliament will be far more centrist, younger and ethnically diverse and will contain dozens more women than the outgoing assembly.

- Record number of women -

There will be a record 224 women in the new intake of lawmakers, smashing the former high mark of 155 elected in 2012.

Thanks to Macron's policy of equal gender selection, nearly half the lawmakers of his Republic on the Move (REM) party are women (47 percent). The hard-left France Unbowed is second with 41 percent.

REM's Laetitia Avia, 31, who rose from humble beginnings in a family of Togolese immigrants to found her own legal practice, became one of the few French women of African origin to have ever won a parliamentary seat.

The increase in women lawmakers will help France rise from its lowly 64th place in the global Inter-Parliamentary Union rankings. Germany, by comparison, is 22nd.

- Left-right divide put aside -

The 39-year-old Macron's fledgling REM won 308 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly just 14 months after it was formed.

With the 42 seats of its allies MoDem, REM has a total of 350, giving it a powerful platform to launch Macron's slate of pre-business reforms.

That success came at a heavy cost for the traditional parties of left and right.

The Socialists of former president Francois Hollande in particular were hammered by voters and ended with a post-war low of 30 seats -- a humiliating total compared to the 284 they had in the outgoing parliament.

The conservative Republicans won 112 seats, falling well short of their aim of sharing power with Macron's party.

- Injection of youth -

Just as France has its youngest ever president, the average age of lawmakers also drops sharply, from 54 in the outgoing parliament to 48 in the new assembly.

The youngest MP will be 23-year-old Ludovic Pajot of the far-right National Front (FN), who beat a pro-Macron candidate in northern France. He is known for his anti-immigration stance.

- Political novices -

The new intake of lawmakers has very little political experience -- 425 of the 577 have never been members of parliament.

A whopping 91 percent of the MPs from Macron's party are newcomers to parliament, reflecting the president's priority for candidates from outside the political world.

by Robin GREMMEL, Daphné BENOIT

© 2017 AFP