Environmentalists push for municipal elections

Environmentalists push for municipal elections

© Sameer al-Doumy Agence France-Presse
In five of the eight departments in the Paris region, less than 30% of voters have moved.

Shunned by voters, the second round of French municipal elections recorded a clear increase in the environmental vote in several major cities of the country. This unprecedented surge is only matched by the failure of the presidential party, which has managed to conquer virtually no major city, even losing one of its only strongholds, the city of Lyon. These first post-COVID-19 elections were also marked by a participation of just 39%, as if abstention had become the leading party in France.

In Lyon, Strasbourg, Poitiers, Besançon and Annecy, the ecologists of Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV) confirmed on Sunday the good results they had obtained in the last European elections.

Even the castle of former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, Bordeaux, has passed among the greens. That of the socialist Martine Aubry, Lille, was only a few voices away. MEP Yannick Jadot sees it as “a concrete ecology, an ecology in action that offers answers to local life, to everyday life”.

Two years before the presidential elections, most observers see in this result, however, limited to the big cities, the will of EELV to impose its voice on the left. “Political ecology was a virtuality, it is becoming – at least in urban France – a reality that the citizens of metropolises, for better or for worse, will now experience”, writes the editorialist of Figaro Alexis Brézet.

Bet missed for LREM

Another unanimous observation, the party of Emmanuel Macron missed his bet, which consisted, for lack of local establishment, to win some big cities. In Paris, the socialist Anne Hidalgo was easily re-elected after the repeated oddities of the two successive macronist candidates, Benjamin Griveaux and Agnès Buzyn. “Tonight we are disappointed,” said government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye.

The only consolation of the president is to see his prime minister easily re-elected in Le Havre with 59% of the votes. Édouard Philippe, whose future at Matignon is not certain, is not a member of La République en Marche (LREM). This clear victory should make it more difficult to replace him in a possible reshuffle, which could take place quickly. Especially since the Prime Minister is always more popular than his president. He hastened to congratulate him on “his great victory”.

Even if the Republicans retain a number of elected officials far higher than most of the other parties, LREM did not shine in this election which especially confirmed the decline in progress for several years. After Bordeaux, the loss of its Marseille fortress to a left-wing coalition is particularly scathing.

With the city of Moissac, the only major victory of the National Rally (RN) is that of Louis Aliot in Perpignan, with 54% of the votes. “The system has always wanted to demonstrate our inability to govern. He will no longer be able to do so, ”said RN President Marine Le Pen. This important victory in a city of 120,000 inhabitants nevertheless hides the weak progress of the far-right party in the other cities of France, and its failure in Calais, a city on which the party had bet a lot.

A large number of elected socialists resist even if this party continues its decline, notably in the hands of the Greens. Symbol among others, the Socialist Party loses Carmaux, the city of Jean Jaurès. But he stayed in Paris and won even with a large left coalition in Marseille.

What fate for Philippe?

Is it because of the epidemic? Never under the Ve République a municipal election had made move so few voters. This election has always been, with the presidential election, the one where the participation was the strongest. At 59%, abstention is up 20% compared to 2014. In five of the eight departments in the Paris region, less than 30% of voters have moved. Some accused the outfit for the first time in the history of a second round, more than two months after the first. Others saw it as a form of disavowal of the president, whom many suspect of having held these elections in difficult conditions so as not to harm his political program of the fall. Emmanuel Macron also mentions the possibility of postponing the regional elections scheduled for March 2021.

Pressed to make people forget a ballot from which he has always affirmed that no lessons should be learned on the national level, Emmanuel Macron intends to turn this page as quickly as possible. As of Monday, he will receive at the Elysée Palace the 150 members drawn by lot from the Citizen’s Climate Convention, who had made their proposals public last week. The president should explain to them what he takes away from it and especially announce if he intends to hold a referendum on the subject. Then he will fly to Germany where he will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time since the health crisis. The next day, he will attend the G5 Sahel summit in Mauritania.

Édouard Philippe has announced that he will spend the evening in Le Havre in order to savor his victory and will not meet Emmanuel Macron until Monday. The French should soon be fixed on the fate of the Prime Minister. A prime minister who may not be the man able to embark on the environmental shift the president seems to dream of, but whom these municipal elections are now making more difficult to dismiss. The answer in a week.
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