Local elections in France amid a collapse in turnout

Paris – AFP

On Sunday, France began organizing the first round of local elections to choose members of regional councils, amid a collapse in the turnout, with the expectation of a penetration of the far-right, less than a year before the presidential elections.

Some 48 million voters were invited to choose the members of the 15 French regional councils, including two from overseas, for a six-year term. The powers of district councils include issues that directly affect citizens, such as public transportation, university colleges and high schools, or land management.

The turnout did not exceed 26.72% at 17:00, a large difference from 40% of the participation recorded in the previous local elections in 2015.

The organization of the elections comes, after it was postponed for three months due to the health crisis, and takes place on a proportional basis in two sessions on June 20 and 27. Local elections do not usually attract crowds of voters. “What I fear is record abstentions,” said voter Marie Claire Diaz in Saint-Don.

These elections are seen as a test before the presidential elections in 2022, which President Emmanuel Macron is likely to run at a time when the influence of the far-right has been increasing continuously, for years.

It seems that the “National Rally” led by Marine Le Pen is making progress, especially since the abstention of voters is in the interest of the extreme right, while the President’s Party, the Republic on the Move, does not seem to be in a strong position. The far-right party aspires to break the Republican front that blocked it’s path to the presidency in the 2015 elections.

For the first time, he may assume leadership of a number of regions, taking advantage of proportional voting. It is likely that the “National Rally” will lead the results of the first session in six regions, especially in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, where the right has been an important party for more than 30 years.

According to opinion polls, 51% of the French believe that the victory of the “National Rally” in regions will not constitute a “threat to democracy.” That would alarm Macron, who faces stiff competition in opinion polls from Le Pen, who faced him in the second round of the 2017 election.

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