Analysts expect the elections to point to the failure of the centrist Macron Republic on the Move (LREM) party – founded by the president before his victory in the 2017 election – to gain a foothold locally.
Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo is expected to retain Paris’s main battleground, with LREM candidate and former Health Minister Agnes Buzyn well behind Macron’s original choice withdrawn in a sext scandal.
With nearly 30,000 dead, France has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. While most restrictions have been relaxed, the government is angry at the shortage of protective equipment at the start of the pandemic.
Paris is now buzzing with speculation that if LREM’s poor performance is confirmed, Macron would take the opportunity to announce a major cabinet reshuffle.
This could include the post of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who, in a quirk of French politics, is also campaigning to become mayor of the Norman port city of Le Havre.
During the pandemic, the popularity of Philippe, a technocratic and unconvincing figure, reached a level much higher than that of the President’s low ratings, which suggests that Macron might prefer to see him work full time in his Norman fiefdom. .
A poll by Harris Interactive Epoka released on Friday found that 44% of respondents had a favorable opinion of Macron, but 51% were positive about Philippe, a 13 point jump for the Prime Minister since the start of the epidemic.
“There will be no major conquests for LREM,” said Emmanuel Rivière, a pollster president of the Kantar Center on the future of Europe.
“This will deprive the ruling party of a territorial anchor on which it could have depended in the next election,” he said.
The Greens, the left seeks success
The next French presidential election will take place in 2022, where analysts expect Macron’s main contender to be far-right leader Marine Le Pen of the National Rally (RN) party.
Despite their appalling performance in the last presidential election, the Socialists should retain key regional centers.
Particular attention will also be paid to the performances of the Green Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) party which, while seeking to preserve the alpine pole of Grenoble, also has its eyes turned to Strasbourg and Lyon.
In Marseille, the left candidate Michele Rubirola wants to cause a sensation by taking the second city of France by the right after a quarter of a century of control.
For RN Le Pen, the big prize would be to take the city of Perpignan to the southeast, which would be the first time that the far right has taken a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants since Toulon in 1995.
More than three months after the first round, voting will take place in 4,820 districts where city councils were not definitively elected in the last ballot.
The only region of France where voting does not take place is the overseas territory of Guyana in South America, where the pandemic is still considered too dangerous to proceed with the vote.
With social distancing rules still in effect in France, the campaign for the second round was inevitably discreet and a major question will be whether participation is an improvement compared to the dismal 44.3% recorded in the first round.
The wearing of the mask will also be compulsory for the 16.5 million people eligible to vote during this round, the polling stations having to open from 06:00 GMT.