In Paris, the current mayor and favorite, Anne Hidalgo – who was engaged in a bitter three-way battle – emerged by a large majority, collecting just under half of the votes cast in the capital.
Hidalgo, a socialist, who is supported by EELV and the communists, has made the fight against climate change and pollution the key element of her electoral program. After the announcement of his victory, Hidalgo, in charge of the town hall for six years, said that voters had chosen to make Paris more “ecological, social and humanist”.
“You have chosen hope, teamwork, a Paris that breathes, that is better to live, that shows more solidarity and that does not let anyone fall by the wayside,” she said in a short speech.
In an election marked by the coronavirus, many people stayed away from the polling stations, leading to a historic level of abstention.
The first round took place on March 15, two days before France began a strict two-month lockout against coronaviruses. The second round, scheduled to take place the following Sunday, has been postponed.
Initial figures suggested that only 40% of the 16.5 million people holding a second round revealed themselves on Sunday to choose mayors and councilors whose decisions affect their daily lives. The turnout in the last local elections of 2014 was 52.4%.
In many Parisian polling stations, protection methods, in particular distance markings on the ground and glass screens, seemed hardly necessary given the voters’ net. “It’s been like this all day,” said a security guard in one in the center of town. ” Very calm. ”
More than 60% of local mayors had already been decided in the first round, but many large cities, including Paris, Marseille, Toulouse and Lyon, remained to be won.
Lyon, the third largest city in France, has changed color, the former veteran socialist mayor Gérard Collomb, representative of LREM, lost to the candidate EELV. Bordeaux, bastion of the center right, was also taken by the ecologists, just like Strasbourg, Besançon, Poitiers, Annecy and Tours.
In Lille, Martine Aubrey, mayor of the socialist party since 2001 and daughter of the EU’s “father”, Jacques Delors, is said to have won a neck-and-neck battle with the green candidate by a handful of votes.
Other main results include Le Havre, where the Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, retained his seat as mayor with 59% of the vote. Speaking after the announcement of his victory, Philippe called the election “an important democratic moment”. “The results are clear in Le Havre and I want to thank the local people who continue to trust me,” he said.
Philippe will wait to know if he will return to Le Havre sooner than expected after Macron has carried out his planned government reshuffle next week.
In the most southern city of France, Perpignan, the far-right candidate, Louis Aliot, former partner of the national rally leader, Marine Le Pen, won a great victory for the party.
There was another shock in Saint-Denis, the Parisian suburbs ruled by the Communist Party for most of the century, which elected a socialist mayor.
Jérôme Fourquet of Ifop pollsters declared that local elections were historically a means for the population to punish those in power. However, he said it would be difficult to interpret Sunday’s results because LREM, a fledgling party created to bring Macron to power in 2017, had few outgoing mayors. While Macron’s centrist party dominates French politics at the national level, having fragmented the traditional right and left, it is poorly represented locally.
“The LREM will score poorly because it has no outgoing mayors to lose, it must win,” said Fourquet. “And most French mayors come from the traditional right and left. This means that, in terms of sanctioning those in power, it will not be easy to read. ”
He added: “At the national level, there are currently two main forces in politics, the National Rally and Macron. At the national level, Marine Le Pen is his main opponent. But these two forces are not present at the local level, where The Republicans and the Socialist Party are the strongest. “