France’s Greens make gains, Macron loses ground in low-turnout local elections
Monday, 29 June, 2020, 12:00
France’s Greens appeared set for major gains Sunday in local elections marked by record-low turnout and the failure of President Emmanuel Macron's ruling party to make any significant impact. Projections based on early vote counts showed Europe Ecology, The Greens party (EELV), poised to take the key cities of Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg and in a very close contest for Lille. Macron expressed his concern over the high abstention rate, estimated at about 60 percent, and acknowledged that the elections were marked by a "green wave", the presidency said. Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye spoke of "disappointment" over the poor showing of the centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party Macron created shortly before his successful 2017 presidential run.This is the first time it had competed in nationwide local elections. "There are places... where our own internal divisions brought us to results that were extremely disappointing," Ndiaye told French television. The party's candidate in Paris, Agnes Buzyn, was projected to come a distant third with incumbent Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo on course to easily win a second term as mayor of the French capital. Marine Le Pen's National Rally, meanwhile, claimed victory in the southern city of Perpignan, in what would be the first far-right takeover of a French city of more than 100,000 inhabitants since 1995. The biggest coup for the Greens would be ousting former minister Martine Aubry as mayor of the northern city of Lille. But her entourage insisted to AFP that she had clung on in a knife-edge vote.