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French local elections

France set to confirm new date for second round of local elections

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe arrives to attend a meeting with all the political party leaders at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, on May 20, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus).
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe arrives to attend a meeting with all the political party leaders at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, on May 20, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). AFP - THOMAS COEX
2 min

France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is due to announce the date for the second round of mayoral elections on Friday after they were postponed in March over coronavirus fears. Lawmakers have urged for polls to go ahead in June. 

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The final round of local elections were meant to go ahead on 22 March, but the worsening coronavirus outbreak forced the government to postpone them.

But growing pressure from lawmakers to push ahead with the vote has left authorities with little choice but to clarify their position.

On Friday, Edouard Philippe will put an end to the suspense when he confirms a new date for the poll.

According to local media, the new date could be set for 28 June unless advised otherwise by the national scientific council.

The council's members say the health situation is still too uncertain to be sure of anything but have warned the government to "take into consideration the epidemiological situation fifteen days prior to the poll."

During the first round on 15 March, polling stations were organised to ensure that staff and voters remained at least a meter apart and voters were urged to use hand sanitizer before casting their ballots.

Restart the country

The government was nonetheless criticised for pressing ahead with a first round of voting and this time wants to avoid any fallout.

The prime minister said Wednesday the elections could be held at the end of June if conditions surrounding the health crisis allowed it. He also suggested redoing the elections completely in January 2021.

But next year would be too late reckon some lawmakers. Thirty-six officials, including the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, wrote an op-ed in the weekly Journal du Dimanche denouncing what they described as a "confined democracy" and urging the government to hold the final round of local elections by June.

Out of France’s 35,000 cities, towns and villages about 30,000 have already elected their mayor in the first round. But larger cities including Paris, Lyon and Marseille are among the 5,000 remaining.

"France is facing a health crisis, compounded by serious economic and social challenges," the lawmakers wrote. "The electoral uncertainty is depriving municipalities of their mayor and hampering their action, which is however essential for restarting our country," they said.

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