France — 2020 local election

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Summary :

On Sunday 15th March, French people went to the polls for the 2020 local election, in spite of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

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The 2020 French municipal elections have been held on 15 March 2020 to renew the municipal councils of the approximately 35,000 French communes. The elections took place on 15 March although  France had closed almost all public institutions the day before, as the 2020 coronavirus pandemic was rapidly spreading in the country.

The pandemic still kept many French from going out to vote, as the French government had strongly advised its citizen to  reduce social contact to a minimum and the number of confirmed cases had risen to 5,400. However, hours after a national shutdown of all non-essential shops and services, French voters were urged to turn out to vote in the first round of municipal elections.

The first round of votes was maintained but as the voting booths closed the record abstention was estimated around 56% in spite of the measure taken to prevent further spread of the virus. Organisers were under orders to allow no less than a one-metre gap between people in lines and to provide soap or hydroalcoholic gel and disinfectant wipes for voting machines and voters were told to bring their own pens to sign the voting register
As France declared the country on lockdown for at least 15 days from Tuesday 17th March at noon, the second round, supposed to take place on Sunday 22nd March, had to be postponed.

This election was really triggering for president Emmanuel Macron La Republique en Marche (LREM) party, as well as far-right Marine LePen Rassemblement National, as it will be the first time they are getting so involved in municipal elections. The biggest hurdle for them was finding candidates because, at the local level, people tended to vote for the people they know.

Moreover, this election was risky for the ruling party, which struggled in the regions during the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) crisis last year. It has sent candidates in only half of France's towns of 10,000 people, often choosing to support LR candidates instead of sending their own.

Regarding the results, the first exit polls in Paris seems to place Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo in what looks like a more open first round race than in 2014 for a second term.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Wikipedia: 2020 French municipal elections https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_French_municipal_elections
Poll of polls: France — 2020 local election https://www.politico.eu/europe-poll-of-polls/france/

News
EurActiv, 06/02/2020: French MEPs mobilise for upcoming French municipal elections https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/french-meps-mobilise-for-upcoming-french-municipal-elections/
The Guardian, 15/03/2020: Coronavirus causes French voters to stay away from local elections https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/15/coronavirus-causes-french-voters-to-stay-away-from-municipal-elections
The Guardian, 15/03/2020: French people urged to vote in local elections amid coronavirus lockdown https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/15/french-urged-to-vote-in-local-elections-amid-coronavirus-lockdown
Euronews, 15/03/2020: Explainer: How do France's local elections work, who are the parties and where are the key battles? https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/14/explainer-how-do-france-s-local-elections-work-who-are-the-parties-and-where-are-the-key-b
Euronews, 16/03/3030: Record low turnout in French municipal elections amidst coronavirus fears https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/15/france-voters-take-to-the-polls-amid-coronavirus-fears

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