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PARIS (dpa-AFX) – Greens and their allies have achieved unprecedented success in the finals of local elections in France. In cities like Lyon, Strasbourg or Besançon, there is a change of power pending, the TV channel France 2 reported on Sunday evening. The spokeswoman for Europe Ecology – Les Verts, Eva Sas, spoke of a “green wave”. So far, Grenoble is the only large city with a green mayor.
The run-off elections affected almost 5,000 municipalities, including the country’s largest cities. A good 16 million voters were called – this corresponds to about a third of those eligible to vote.
The run-off elections were overshadowed by a historically low turnout of around 40 percent. Several top politicians, including right-wing populist Marine Le Pen from the Rassemblement National (RN), expressed concern. Just six years ago, the stake was still a good 62 percent. The run-off elections were actually scheduled for the end of March, but had to be postponed due to the corona pandemic. Masks were mandatory in the polling stations.
In Paris, socialist incumbent Anne Hidalgo and her left-wing allies were well ahead of her conservative challenger Rachida Dati. The capital has a special symbolism in France. Paris is planning the Olympic Games in 2024.
The center camp of head of state Emmanuel Macron put in a heavy slipper. The presidential party La République en Marche (LREM) failed with its original plan to conquer the capital and to surprise in other cities. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe (49), however, won the election in the northern French port city of Le Havre with around 59 percent. “The results are clear in Le Havre,” said Philippe.
Just three years ago, the young presidential party had won the majority of seats in the National Assembly from scratch. Macron and his wife Brigitte chose Le Touquet in the northern French seaside resort, as TV pictures showed. After the elections, the 42-year-old wants to decide on his political course after the coronavirus pandemic, which hit France hard with around 30,000 deaths.
For weeks there has been speculation as to whether Macron will keep its civil rights prime minister in the expected government reshuffle or not. Philippe made his mark as a crisis manager during the pandemic and, according to surveys, is much more popular than the president.
Macron, meanwhile, is betting on big politics – on Friday he held a video conference with his Russian colleague Wladimir Putin, on Monday he will be with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) expected in Meseberg, Brandenburg.
The right wing RN held several bastions in the north and south of the country. The well-known RN politician Louis Aliot prevailed, according to France 2, in the runoff election in the city of Perpignan./cb/DP/zb