Green Party gains against Macron in local French elections
Green Party gains against Macron in local French elections
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo getting a bouquet of flowers after her victorious second round of the municipal election Sunday
03 July, 2020, 19:23
The poll was delayed in March because of the coronavirus crisis.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who once declared "Make The Planet Great Again" but whose climate agenda got knocked off course by persistent street protests, is under new pressure to fight climate change after the Green Party did well in Sunday's local elections.
Green candidates won in the major cities of Marseilles, Lyon, Strasbourg and Bordeaux in municipal elections postponed by the outbreak of Covid-19.
Government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye acknowledged the party's modest result in the elections, stressing that planting local roots "is taking time".
France's Green party and its left-wing allies have made significant gains in a second round of local elections.
In Paris, the biggest prize of all, the incumbent Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo celebrated victory after a shambolic campaign by Macron's camp.
Hidalgo largely beat conservative candidate Rachida Dati, according to estimates based on partial results.
And in Goussainville, a commune on the outskirts of Paris, Abdelaziz Hamida, a candidate under police surveillance for years over to links to a radical Islamist group was elected mayor. Her reelection will allow her to oversee the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The anti-immigration, far-right National Rally, usually buoyed by low voter turnout in French elections, won a symbolic victory in the southern city of Perpignan, making Louis Aliot the first member of the party to run a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants since 1995.
In the socialist stronghold of Lille, the environmental candidate Stephane Baly came close to unseating stalwart Martine Aubry. But her entourage insisted to AFP that she had clung on in a knife-edge vote. Voter turnout fell to 40 percent, an all-time low in France.
This represents about 15 percent of the country's municipal councils where power remained up for grabs.
Le Pen called the nationwide no-show "astonishing" and far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said it amounted to "a civic strike". The final round was originally scheduled on March 22.
Voter participation was estimated at under 41 percent of the 16.5 million registered electors, down from 62 percent for the last poll in 2014. The biggest question mark is over the future of Edouard Philippe, Macron's popular prime minister, who is running for his old job as mayor of Le Havre.
He told Europe 1 radio the EELV would not join Macron's government, and urged the president to take on board a long list of measures proposed by the citizens' convention he had set up.
Critics accused Macron of using the icy photo-op to burnish his government's green credentials ahead of the local elections.
The only region of France not voting Sunday was the overseas territory of Guiana in South America, where the pandemic was deemed too active to open polling stations.
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