Preparation for this year’s election is being scrutinized for clues to the outcome of next year’s presidential election: Will fractured left-wing parties win votes? How is Macron’s La République En Marche! party fare?
The participation rate is never high. It was 50% the last time in 2015, compared to 75% for the 2017 presidential elections.
Mathias Bernard, a specialist in contemporary history and president of Clermont Auvergne University, fears it will be even less, as Covid has made it difficult to hold meetings for politicians and voters to focus on the pandemic.
This poses a danger to democracy, he said.
“Media coverage tends to focus on political intrigue, but the public forgets that regions and departments have big budgets and can have a real impact on their daily lives, and that’s why they should vote. .
“One of the most important roles of the regions is to develop jobs and the local economy. The regions, rather than the departments, highlight the political landscape of the country.
“Their presidents are often well known and may have bigger ambitions, maybe even being president of the country.
“There seems to be more support for the right-wing candidates.
“In 2015, two regions almost passed the National Rally and it could indeed happen this time, something unprecedented in France.
The councilors who sit at the departmental and regional level make important decisions in matters of education: the lycées are financed by the regions and the colleges by the departments.
The regions also provide grants and support for new businesses and training programs.
They fund student accommodation and provide career advice. They also have a budget devoted to the development of cultural and sports centers and finance TER trains.
The tasks of the departments include taking charge of colleges, school transport, departmental roads and social support.
The latter includes care for the elderly, people with disabilities and vulnerable children. They finance the RSA, a benefit that supplements the income of low-income people.
Regional and departmental elections are generally held every six years. Exceptionally however, the next ones will take place in March 2028, in seven years, so they do not interfere with the presidential elections of April and May 2027. The mandate of the president is five years.
There are two rounds for both elections, and a list of candidates (based on political allegiance) can only be elected after the first round if there is more than 50% of the vote.
In the week following the election, council chairs will be chosen by the newly elected councilors.
How to vote
To vote, you must be at least 18 years old, reside in the region concerned and have French nationality.
Other EU citizens do not have the right to vote, unlike municipal elections. Non-EU citizens, including currently UK residents, cannot vote either.
Anyone who has recently acquired French nationality must have been automatically entered on the electoral list and received an electoral card by post.
The deadline was May 14, but if you were declared French after that date, you can still register by going to your town hall.
You can see a list of necessary documents and a link to verify your electoral status.
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