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French citizens vote in delayed local poll

Voters in France donned face masks to cast their ballots on Sunday in a delayed second round of countrywide municipal elections, a mid-term test for President Emmanuel Macron and his ruling party which could fail to win a single big city.

A year ago, Mr. Macron had hoped the local elections would help anchor his young centrist party in towns and cities across France, ahead of an anticipated 2022 re-election bid. But more recently, presidential aides have been playing down expectations.

France’s 35,000 Mayors set policy on issues from urban planning to education and the environment and while local factors typically drive voter choices, they give the electorate an opportunity to support or punish a President mid-mandate.

First round in March

France pressed ahead with the first round of the municipal elections in mid-March, less than 48 hours before Mr. Macron imposed one of Europe’s strictest COVID-19 lockdowns, forcing a long delay before the second round.

The pandemic could still depress turnout. At midday this was at 15.3%, below the 19.8% registered at the same time in 2014.

In the capital, the election’s biggest prize, the sitting socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo is on track for a comfortable win after a shambolic campaign by Mr. Macron and his La Republique en Marche party.

Paris is unlikely to be the only disappointment for Mr. Macron. The Greens could to do well in cities such as Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux, sometimes in alliance with the Left, building on momentum they created in 2019’s European elections.

In Perpignan, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party may take control of its first city with a population of more than 1,00,000.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 5:52:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/french-citizens-vote-in-delayed-local-poll/article31940457.ece

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