France local government elections- Macron suffered losses

Greens made gains in the cities amid low turnout

The Sunday French municipal elections saw a surge for Green Party as president macron’s party suffered losses. The Socialist Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo retains her mayor ship and won the reelection. Both the main centre right and centre left parties failed to put up an impressive show in the local elections.
Green candidates fared well in many big cities, leading the race in Lyon, Strasbourg and Grenoble, while a handful of candidates from the far-right National Rally were re-elected with outright majorities.
French voters cast their ballots Sunday in nationwide second round of municipal elections marked by record-low turnout. Only 40% voters turn up for voting at the polling stations across the country. The elections took place at a time when France eased the strict lockdown imposed in March. The government imposed stringent restrictions on public life in an increasingly frantic effort to slow the progress of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
It is the delayed second round of municipal elections across France. Like presidential elections, local elections in France follow a two-round voting process. The first round was on March 15th but the second - set for March 22nd - was postponed because of the lockdown. The rescheduled second round takes place on Sunday, June 28th.
The great majority of candidates from the president's La Republique en Marche party failed to make it past the first round of voting and key cities like Paris and Marseille are widely expected to choose non LREM candidates. The party's goal is to have 10,000 municipal councilors - a fraction of the 535,000 seats up for election.
Emmanuel Macron came to power in 2017 with the help of support from voters in France's big cities, as well as the collapse of the traditional parties of both right Republican Party- and left-wing Socialist Party.
 However, three years on his movement La République en March (LREM) -- which was already struggling to embed itself locally around the country -- failed to capture any of the large metropolitan areas where the president will need significant voter support at the next election.
Having veered to the right in the first half of his presidential term, Macron had already been tipped to concentrate more on social and environmental issues in the remaining two years of his mandate. Such a trend is likely to be accelerated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and these election results.

The local government election results brought jubilation for the main Green party and left-wing allies, as they swept to victory in several large cities. Their success puts more pressure on Emmanuel Macron to address environmental concerns ahead of the 2022 presidential race.
The greens have established themselves as a major political opposition force in France, with notable victories in several major cities including Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg. They also played a significant part in the re-election of the socialist mayor in Paris and helped propel the left into pole position in Marseille.
Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV) kept control of Grenoble and also won a host of other cities including Montpellier, Besançon, Annecy and Poitiers.
The green success includes victories in cities that traditionally have been bastions of the political right: in Bordeaux, the right-wing had been in control since 1947, while Lyon was a similar stronghold until it was captured by the socialists in 2001. But they also showed they can win in traditionally left-wing cities, such as Poitiers.
But although Le Pen hailed the RN's victory in Perpignan as proof that her party is "capable of managing large authorities", results overall were disappointing.
Although it held on to eight out of 10 councils it had won in 2014, it lost the only town it controlled in the Paris region, as well as another municipality in the south.

The RN won a few other towns in the south, but the results illustrate that it is finding it hard to break out of its strongholds at either end of the country -- something that will be of concern to Macron's rival in the last presidential run-off, with less than two years to go until the 2022 election.
But beyond the so-called green wave on Sunday night, a closer look at the ecology candidates' wins shows that they were made possible by alliances forged with the Socialist Party, the far-left La France Insoumise, the French Communist Party and ex-Socialist Hamon's Génération.s party.
Alone, EELV was vulnerable to defeat, as in Lille where green candidate Stéphane Baly missed out by a handful of votes on winning City Hall away from Socialist heavyweight Martine Aubry.
"Between now and 2022, for the midterms in between, let's continue to cultivate what we have in common, more than dogmatic differences," said EELV party Chief Julien Bayou. The greens leader likely had in mind the case of EELV candidate Michèle Rubirola in Marseille. She was initially suspended from the party for having refused its logic to go it alone, before eliciting support after topping the first-round vote in March on the strength of left-wing alliances.
The Socialist Party, too, had a very good night. Anne Hidalgo won re-election in Paris while Socialist incumbents also prevailed in cities such as Nantes, Rennes, Dijon and Le Mans, and the party won City Hall away from an ex-Socialist in Montpellier.
Sunday nights' results also vindicate Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure who, since taking the helm in 2018, has championed left-wingers joining forces. With two years to go before the next presidential election, Faure clearly hopes these local elections mark a turning point for leftist political fortunes.
"Enormous momentum is building all over France," Faure declared. "All of the left and the ecologists are scoring formidable victories. That is what is happening. We have something emerging in this country, a social-ecological bloc that we must now consolidate."
                                                               Khalid Bhatti              

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