PARIS — Four ethnic Armenians, all of them representing French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party, won seats in France’s new parliament elected on Sunday.
According to preliminary results of the two-round elections, Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) and its Modem allies will control at least 355 of the 577 seats in the French lower house of parliament. The recently elected centrist president will thus enjoy a commanding majority in the National Assembly.
Four of the LREM deputies — Daniele Cazarian, Nadia Essayan, Guillaume Kasbarian and Jacques Marilossian — are French people of Armenian descent elected from constituencies in various parts of the country.
A fifth French-Armenian candidate fielded by the LREM, Pascal Chamassian, was narrowly defeated by Valerie Boyer, a pro-Armenian member of the outgoing French parliament. Boyer is affiliated with the Republicans, France’s leading conservative party that came in a distant second in the polls.
A senior member of the Republicans, Patrick Devedjian, was the sole ethnic Armenian deputy in the outgoing National Assembly.The 72-year-old former government minister did not run for reelection this time around.
France is home to an estimated 500,000 ethnic Armenians, most of them descendants of survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Macron and other major candidates courted the influential community during presidential elections held in April.
Macron described French-Armenian ties as “privileged” ahead of the April 23 first round of voting in the French presidential race. He made a point of visiting an Armenian genocide memorial in Paris on April 24 to mark the 102nd anniversary of the start of the mass killings and deportations. He was endorsed by leading French-Armenian organizations three days later.
Macron’s main challenger, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, also made pro-Armenian statements during the presidential election campaign. Le Pen paid tribute to the French Armenians and said that Nagorno-Karabakh should be “reunified with Armenia.”
France has long maintained a warm rapport with Armenia. Macron’s three predecessors — Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac — paid high-profile official visits to Yerevan while in office. The Armenian government will underline these close ties when it hosts next year a summit of La Francophonie, a grouping of over 70 mainly French-speaking nations.