Voter turnout in the final round of the French legislative election on Sunday recorded a slightly better start with 18.99% ballots cast at noon, according to the data released by the Interior Ministry.

In comparison, the turnout during the second round of the 2017 legislative elections at noon was 17.75%. The overall voter participation is still dismal as polls predict over 50% voters are staying away from the polling stations.

The voting began at 8 a.m. (0600GMT) in the morning and will remain open until 6 p.m. (1600GMT) in most parts of the country, except for big cities where polling stations will close at 8 p.m. (1800GMT).

A total of 1,148 candidates are running for the 577-seat national assembly. Today’s final results will be decisive for President Emmanuel Macron who was reelected in April to continue his government’s second-term agenda. To attain an absolute majority, Macron’s presidential alliance will need to win 289 seats.

His Ensemble (Together) alliance is facing stiff competition from far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon’s newly formed left coalition NUPES (New Ecologic and Social People's Union). In the very tight results of the first round of elections held last Sunday, Macron’s alliance received 25.75%, against the NUPES 25.66%.

In the early morning results, Justine Benin, secretary of state for maritime, lost the elections to Christian Baptiste in the overseas territory of Guadeloupe. Benin got 41.35% of the votes against the winning opponent’s 58.65%.