In the aftermath of a first round of municipal elections ignored by a majority of concerned voters, the question of a postponement of the second round, scheduled for Sunday March 22, is also on the table, demanded by many political leaders.
In Paris, LREM candidate Agnes Buzyn has already announced that she is stopping her campaign.
A total confinement of the French would settle the question anyway. Is it imminent? The Elysee Palace denied on Monday morning, and government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye called the “rumor” that spread around Sunday evening of immediate confinement after the election “fake news”.
But, she also said, while the situation on the front line of the epidemic “deteriorates”, the government will take “all measures” which will allow “to deeply modify the behavior” of the French vis-a-vis the coronavirus. Because their “awareness” is for the moment “not there,” she said, while the images of strollers Sunday under a radiant sun have drawn many critics.
The situation “is very worrying” and “is deteriorating very quickly”, confirmed the Director General of Health Jerôme Salomon, worried about a possible “saturation” of hospitals.
The last assessment Sunday evening reported 127 dead and 5,423 confirmed cases.
Emmanuel Macron met Monday for a working lunch “in Defense Council format” to decide on new measures to take to fight the epidemic, after the closure of nurseries, schools and universities, and that of all “places receiving the public not essential to the life of the country “.
The head of state had already spoken Thursday evening in an address followed by more than twenty million French to announce the closure of schools and explain to the French the seriousness of the health crisis.
Faced with the global Covid-19 epidemic, several countries neighboring France have taken total containment measures, like Italy and Spain, the two most affected European states.
Professor Philippe Juvin, chief of emergency at the Parisian hospital Georges-Pompidou, recommends confinement also in France. “We see the wave coming,” he alerted Monday, referring to the Haut-Rhin, where the “resuscitation capacities are exceeded” in Mulhouse, and the Paris region where “we have witnessed a doubling of the number of patients hospitalized in resuscitation (…) in three days”.
“Change the electoral law”!
While Brussels is now awaiting a recession for 2020, Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud announced Monday that the unemployment benefit reform, which was to take effect on April 1, will be postponed until September 1.
The coronavirus also made its mark on the first round of municipal elections on Sunday. Among the approximately 47.7 million voters called to elect their mayor, less than half have actually moved. A historically low figure for a generally mobilizing vote among the French.
In these circumstances, calls for a postponement of the second round, scheduled for Sunday March 22, immediately came out from Damien Abad and Bruno Retailleau (Les Republicains), from the president of the National Rally Marine Le Pen, from Francois Ruffin ( LFI) and EELV environmentalists.
EELV MEP Yannick Jadot reiterated his call on Monday morning: “since there was this first round in absolutely unique conditions, we must maintain this first round and change the electoral law to repel the second”.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Sunday that he would bring together “again at the start of the week” scientific experts and “representatives of the political forces” to make a decision.
Mr. Philippe is under intense pressure after the choice of the executive to maintain, despite the health context, this first round, under the pressure of many elected officials, especially on the right.
In Paris, where outgoing PS mayor Anne Hidalgo in Paris has a large lead after the first round, traditional environmental partners and Cedric Villani’s team are delaying discussions, AFP learned from concordant sources.
Elsewhere in France, environmentalists have made a good breakthrough. If a second round was held, they could feed serious hopes in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, Besancon and Grenoble in particular. The RN of Marine Le Pen confirmed, by several victories from the first round, its positions acquired in 2014 in Henin-Beaumont (Pas-de-Calais), Frejus (Var), Hayange (Moselle) or Beaucaire (Gard). He also placed himself in a position to conquer Perpignan.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s waiver in Le Havre and the Minister of Public Accounts Gerald Darmanin’s victory at Tourcoing did not hide the fact that the local establishment of LREM was not under way. And LR, which had triumphed at the municipal elections in 2014 before collapsing from 2017, has more or less remained.