Almost 44 million people will cast their votes to choose a new National Assembly for a five-year term a month after Nicolas Sarkozy snatched the victory in the presidential elections from Socialist leader Segolene Royal.
The first round of parliamentary elections saw the pro-presidential center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) gain 110 seats in the 577-member lower house. In the second round, the struggle will be for the remaining 467 seats.
Sociologists have forecasted a landslide victory for the UMP and its allies, judging by the first round and opinion surveys. Experts have said the UMP could end up with a total of 440 seats in the assembly, which would give Sarkozy a substantial legislative backing in his initiatives.
The left-wing opposition, the Socialists, is likely to emerge with 125-156 seats, the Communists 10-15 seats, and the Greens two or three seats along with the centrist Democrats. The far-right National Front led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who came out fourth in the presidential race, stands low chances of making it into the legislature.
Eleven members of the Cabinet are also running for the parliament. Shortly before the polls, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said those ministers who fail to win the elections would be deprived of their portfolios.
Fillon himself made it through the first round along with another five ministers - Economy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, Defense Minister Herve Morin, Health Minister Xavier Bertrand, Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau and Budget Minister Eric Woerth.
The other candidates from the government have high chances of getting elected in the second round, although Environment Minister Alain Juppe will have to struggle hard to defeat a strong rival from the Socialist Party.
Traditionally, Cabinet ministers who win parliamentary mandates do not sit in parliament personally but delegate their special envoys to the legislature.