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48 million French people called to the polls

The French are called to vote on Sunday in the first round of regional and departmental elections. A poll with multiple stakes for the daily life of citizens, also considered as a launching pad for the presidential election.

The first round of regional and departmental is held today, Sunday, June 20, in France with 48 million citizens called to the polls. This last ballot before the presidential election, which will be held in 10 months, could be marked by a strong abstention according to the experts.

President Emmanuel Macron will vote at 12 p.m. in Le Touquet in Pas-de-Calais, the same department where his opponent Marine Le Pen will slip a ballot into the ballot box, at 11:30 a.m. in Hénin-Beaumont. Prime Minister Jean Castex will fulfill his electorate at 9.45 am in Prades, in the Pyrénées-Orientales.

The stakes are multiple: will the RN win its first region? What future for potential candidates for the Elysée? Will the majority limit the breakage? What alliances for the second round, on June 27?

However, abstention risks being the big winner of this first round, when the Covid epidemic, which postponed the election for three months, ebbs and life finds a semblance of normality.

It could also be fed by dysfunctions in the distribution of electoral propaganda, pinned on Saturday by communities and parties.

The skills devolved to the regions (transport, high schools, vocational training, etc.) and departments (colleges, RSA, social assistance, etc.) nevertheless affect the daily life of the French as closely as possible.

Disinterest of the population

But, at the end of a campaign anesthetized by the health crisis, interest has never taken off for a ballot whose stakes are both exacerbated and exceeded by the proximity of the presidential election.

Security has thus become one of the major issues, although it is not a competence of the regions. Two potential right-wing candidates for the Elysee Palace, Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse, have announced that they will stop politics if they are not re-elected in Hauts-de-France and Ile-de-France, contributing to nationalize the deadline.

The National Rally also intends to use these regions as a launching pad for Marine Le Pen, a candidate already declared for 2022. Favored by a proportional vote, the RN is given the lead in the first round in six out of thirteen regions, in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur (Paca), Center-Val-de-Loire, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Occitanie, New Aquitaine and in Brittany. In the polls, he is on the heels of outgoing presidents in Hauts-de-France, Grand Est and Normandy.

In 2015, the momentum of the far-right party was already strong after the first round. But it had broken against the dyke of the Republican front, erected in particular by the sacrifice of the Socialist Party in Paca and in Hauts-de-France.

Campaign under tension

This time, the dam seems more fragile and the traditional parties more reluctant to step aside completely for the next six years. The in-between round promises intense negotiations, until the filing of the lists on Tuesday 6:00 p.m. The psychodrama in Paca, where the rapprochement between the outgoing LR president Renaud Muselier with LREM has precipitated the right into an open crisis, gave a foretaste of the clashes to come.

The tensions (slap to the president, floury candidates, controversies) which marked the campaign culminated on Saturday with the altercation between a Communist candidate and an RN candidate in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Six years ago, the right and the center managed to keep seven regions and the PS five. Since then, these two great government forces have loosened at the national level, but are counting on their local roots to limit the damage.

The ex-LR Valérie Pécresse and Xavier Bertrand remain well placed, just like Jean Rottner in the Grand Est and Laurent Wauquiez, another possible candidate for the Elysée, in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

The position of the PS is more precarious, while the Greens intend to take advantage of the dynamic which has brought them to the head of several large cities in the municipal elections. Environmentalists are betting in particular on a success in Pays de la Loire with Matthieu Orphelin.

The presidential majority approaches the ballot with modest ambitions, with Minister Marc Fesneau, a Modem as the main asset in Center-Val-de-Loire. The majority especially cultivate the hope of placing themselves in the position of kingmakers.

In the event of a big slap, the question of a government reshuffle may arise, while Emmanuel Macron must present in early July the roadmap for the last year of his five-year term which he wishes “useful”.

For the departmental elections, the scenario is identical: the outgoing ones will have to face the push of the RN, which again does not hold any department.

Five overseas communities – Mayotte, Reunion, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Martinique – are also called to the polls to renew the elected representatives of their department, regions or local authority.

With AFP

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