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Socialists Win Complete Majority of French Parliament in Historic Elections

Promised reforms include a softening of Germany-led austerity drive and increased taxes for banks and corporations

Common Dreams staff

Members of the Movement of the Young Socialists (MJS) react after the announcement of the results of the second round of the French parliamentary elections at the PS headquarters in Paris. France's Socialists won control of parliament, handing President Francois Hollande the convincing majority he needs to push through his tax-and-spend agenda to battle the eurozone debt crisis.

François Hollande's Socialist party won an absolute majority of parliament seats in national elections on Sunday, giving the recently elected president a strong legislative hand to make promised economic reforms in the country.

The Socialists will now control both the national assembly and the senate and will now use a special session of parliament in July to terminate tax breaks and increase taxes for large corporations, particularly banks and energy companies.

"The task before us is immense," Hollande's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said as results came in from the run-off vote. "Nothing will be easy."

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Agence France-Presse: Socialists take absolute majority in French parliament

The Socialists' bloc obtained 314 seats -- an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly -- and so will not need to rely on the Greens or the far left, according to official results.

The far-right National Front was set to return to parliament for the first time since 1998 after winning two seats in the south of the country, although party leader Marine Le Pen lost her own bid for a seat.

Hollande, who defeated right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in a May presidential election, had urged voters to give him the MPs he needs to steer France through the eurozone crisis, rising unemployment and a faltering economy.

"The task before us is immense," Hollande's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said as results came in from the run-off vote. "Nothing will be easy."

The Socialists' absolute majority means they will be able to govern without backing of the far-left Left Front, whose positions are very different on Europe and the economy.

Beyond Hollande's election promises of job creation and tax hikes, the government will have to pass unpopular measures to bring the deficit below three percent of GDP, with no sign of the eurozone's debt crisis improving.

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Reuters: Socialists vow reforms after big win

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the government would waste no time in pressing ahead with promised reforms.

"We need to sort out this country's finances, to ensure we achieve a balanced budget by 2017, and at the same time pursue our priorities in terms of growth, employment, education and security," said Valls, promising tax reforms to ensure that the richest French pay their share.

Valls said that a resurgence in the vote for the National Front - which won two parliamentary seats and returns to parliament for the first time since the mid-1980s - was due to widespread disenchantment with France's economic situation.

"We need to mobilize our European partners because piling more austerity on top of austerity will lead to tragedy and a deep rift between the peoples of Europe and their politicians."

With unemployment at a 13-year high of 10 percent and economic growth stagnating, Hollande faces a delicate balancing act in reducing the government's deficit and keeping the euro zone's second largest economy out of the sights of financial market speculators attacking Spain and Italy.

The government may use a review of government finances by the state auditor, due by the end of June, to temper its campaign spending promises.

Hollande was to address a summit of G20 leaders in Mexico on Monday.

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