France's Macron faces punishing local elections

France's Macron faces punishing local elections”

The polls took place amid the coronavirus pandemic with voters required to wear face masks and turnout hitting a record low of 40 per cent, the BBC reported.

An exit poll for Paris showed the Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo will hold on to her position following a chaotic campaign from Mr Macron's team.

A day after a powerful push by the Greens in French municipal elections, President Emmanuel Macron on Monday vowed to speed up environmental policies - promising an extra €15 billion to fight global warming over the next two years, and throwing his support behind two referendums on major climate policy.

It is the second round of polls for mayors and municipal councillors, which was delayed because of the coronavirus lockdown. In Paris, incumbent Anne Hidalgo was returned as mayor promising more measures to reduce the city's carbon footprint -and its pollution levels - which fell dramatically under the lockdown.

The only region of France not voting Sunday was the overseas territory of Guiana in South America, where the pandemic was deemed too active to open polling stations.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, in charge of organizing the elections, said that "today, everywhere across France, health measures. were able to be respected". France has reported almost 200,000 confirmed cases and 29,781 deaths in the pandemic but experts believe all reported figures are undercounts due to limited testing and missed mild cases.

The elections, though ostensibly focused on local concerns, are also seen as a key political indicator ahead of the 2022 French presidential election.

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Critics accused Macron of using the icy photo-op to burnish his government's green credentials ahead of the local elections.

A government reshuffle is expected to be carried out by Mr Macron in the wake of Sunday's result.

French President Macron's Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, won his advance to become mayor of Le Havre the northern port city.

Opinion polls now show Mr Macron's popularity rating is hovering around 40 per cent - higher than before the virus outbreak. The party, Republic on the Move, doesn't have candidates in every race and in some instances is backing candidates from the left or the right instead.

And Paris is unlikely to be Macron's only disappointment.

The conservative Republicans party, which was the big victor in the 2014 municipal election and has a strong network of local elected officials, appeared to do well again.

In Perpignan, Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) claimed victory, the first time the protectionist, anti-EU party has taken control of a town with a population of more than 100,000 people.

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