Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- President Macron of France has failed in his bid to create a strong party base through the latest French local elections.

The most striking outcome was, as with the presidential elections, the record level of abstention at 60%. It is the lowest turnout since the birth of the 5th Republic in 1958. Even allowing for the reluctance of voters to risk Covid 19 infection, it is a very low turnout.

The final round of local elections was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first round of votes controversially took place just two days before President Macron declared lockdown in France in March.

Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, won his campaign to become mayor of Le Havre, the northern port city, but that is a personal victory.

The French President will likely emerge from the election without winning a single contest in a major city. This comes two years before he is set to face re-election in France.

France’s green party, Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV) has done well and have won several big towns including Bordeaux, Lyon, Strasbourg and Tours, thanks to support from left voters.

An exit poll for Paris showed the Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo will hold on to her position following a chaotic campaign from Macron’s party. She was supported by EELV and the Communists

Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party has won in Perpignan. This is the first time the Euro septic, anti-immigrant party has taken a town with a population of more than 100,000 people.

Ms. Le Pen said: “We shall now be able to demonstrate that we are capable of running a big town.”

President Macron had previously hoped that the local elections would help to anchor his party in towns and cities across France. This is vital for the senatorial elections for the revising chamber where the government is currently in a minority. The Senate electorate are known as ‘Grand Electeurs’ and are made up of local councilors. Failure to win seats in the local councils means fewer voters in the elections for the Senate.

This vote marks the unofficial start of the Presidential campaign of 2022. Socialist leader Olivier Faure was quick to acknowledge the success of the Greens, saying he was ready to support them in an alliance for the presidentials.

Macron’s strength is the reluctance of many French voters to back Marine Le Pen whose successful RN party is still suspected of right wing extremism. So far, there is no other obvious candidate to beat the incumbent President. The 2022 elections will be decided by the 60% who did not vote this time round.

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