Coronavirus: Lowest turnout in local elections in France


In the mayoral election in Paris, the victory of socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo is emerging. At 30 percent, according to a forecast by the Ipsos Institute, it was eight percent ahead of its conservative main competitor Rachida Dati. The two candidates had previously had a head-to-head race in the polls. Agnès Buzyn estimates that they are far behind with just under 18 percent, they stand for the La Republique party of Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron.
In the municipal elections overshadowed by the corona virus, a record low in voter turnout is emerging. The Ipsos-Steria Institute estimates that more than half of the citizens have not voted, more than ever before in the mayors’ elections. That despite the spread of the corona virus on Sunday, almost 48 million people were called to go to the polling stations had previously met with massive criticism. Public life in France has been largely at a standstill since Sunday.

Criticism of holding the election date

Many feared that the result could not be representative due to the low turnout. “The high abstention rate that we have is evidence of the great concern of our citizens,” said French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. President Emmanuel Macron defended his decision to stick to the election when he cast his vote in the northern French seaside resort of Le Touquet. He was not only responsible for the health of citizens, but also for democratic life in France, he said.

Numerous politicians are now calling for at least the postponement of the second round next Sunday. “Maintaining these local elections is an incomprehensible decision for our compatriots,” right-wing foreign policy official Marine Le Pen said in the evening. Where no absolute majority is reached, there will be a second ballot on March 22nd. Whether this will actually take place should be decided at the beginning of the week. The number of infections had risen massively again in France on Sunday. France now has around 5,400 infections, which means that the number has increased by 900 within 24 hours.
Prime Minister Philippe announced on Saturday evening that in the fight against the corona virus, all non-vital facilities must remain closed until further notice. These include bars, restaurants and numerous shops. However, the election could still take place if appropriate precautions were taken, he said. France did not understand this decision.
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