* President Hollande set for solid Socialist parliament
* Socialist Party urges high turnout for June 17 vote runoff
* Prospect of sound majority comforts Hollande in euro
By Catherine Bremer
PARIS, June 11 French President Francois
Hollande is on track to win a solid parliamentary majority after
a first-round election that leaves him strengthened heading into
a flurry of talks with euro zone leaders that could make or
break the currency union.
Sunday's vote left Hollande's Socialist Party bloc likely to
win the 289 seats it needs for an outright majority in the
577-seat National Assembly, and almost certain to do so with its
Greens Party allies on board, polling institutes said.
The seat projections indicated Hollande may not need to rely
on eurosceptic hard leftists to pass legislation, relieving him
of a potential headache as Berlin pressures its partners to
start moving towards a fiscal union in Europe.
"The realisation that the crisis is serious and that the
government needs elbow room to get the country back on track is
playing in favour of the government winning an absolute
majority," said Stephane Rozes at the CAP political consultancy.
Socialists were muted in their reaction, anxious to keep the
pressure on supporters to vote in next Sunday's runoff, but
winning power in the lower house for the first time in a decade
would be a triumph for the left after it took the Senate in 2011
and won the presidency in May after 17 years on the outside.
"Change is beginning," Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault
said, but warned: "Everything hinges on next Sunday."
Hollande needs a coherent majority to back him on upcoming
adjustments to the 2012 budget to reflect sickly growth and on a
broad tax reform he plans for the weeks ahead that will raise
taxes on the wealthy to fund his spending plans.
Even more crucial will be possible legislation in the months
ahead to grant European Union institutions more power over
national budgets, something that would be hard to get lawmakers
outside his party and the general public to swallow.
A lurch back into crisis has ramped up the pressure for the
euro zone to mutualise its debt and create an integrated bank
sector to protect depositors and governments, measures the
bloc's paymaster Germany says it will only consider if member
states agree to deeper fiscal integration.
Hollande broadly supports the integration that Merkel is now
demanding, but being reliant on hard leftists or conservatives
to grant more budget power to Brussels would run the risk of
calls for a referendum and could trigger street protests.
Hollande flies to Rome on Thursday to discuss the crisis
with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. The pair will rub
shoulders with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime
Minister Mariano Rajoy at a G20 summit in Mexico on June 18-19 -
right after the parliamentary second-round and a Greek election.
The euro zone crisis has provided fodder for National Front
leader Marine Le Pen, who built on her strong score in the
presidential race by taking a commanding lead on Sunday in a
northern French working class town.
With anger over the economy the single biggest motivation
for French voters today, Le Pen's party is at its closest in
years to winning a parliamentary seat, having candidates in four
constituencies qualified to go through to the second round.
Hollande, who won the presidency due largely to a rejection
of conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and his failure to curb rampant
unemployment, has been given a short honeymoon by voters. Fewer
than two-thirds give him positive approval ratings in surveys.
The president is set to announce budget adjustments by the
end of June after a national audit office assessment of public
finances that is expected to show growth is flagging.
Those adjustments could include spending cutbacks or delays,
given the pressure on France to cut its deficit. A parliamentary
majority would be a boon for Hollande in that case.
Initial projections based on a partial count of Sunday's
vote suggested Hollande's core Socialist bloc could win 283 to
329 seats in the 577-member National Assembly in the runoff.
With the Greens, the government would have 295 to 347 seats,
the CSA polling institute forecast, well ahead of the mainstream
conservatives with 210 to 263 seats. The Left Front of radicals
and Communists could make an impact with a projected 13-19 seats
but its firebrand leader Jean-Luc Melenchon did not win a seat.
None of Hollande's key ministers were seen at risk of losing
their seats - which would mean them having to quit the cabinet.
Ayrault, along with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and
European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve were all re-elected
on Sunday by winning more than 50 percent straight off. Finance
Minister Pierre Moscovici, who like Hollande is staunchly
pro-European, was on track to win a three-way runoff on Sunday.