By Darshan Singh Brar
TOMORROW will see the second election turns for most big French cities and towns, following a three month suspension after the first turn on March 15.
It saw the election of local village mayors, often for convenience when not popular figures.
This first turn occurred regardless of the health officials’ warning then, a sign that preluded the poor handling of the health crisis by the French administration and government.
It consequently comes to no surprise that this second turn suffers controversy
while offering some interest for those interested in French affairs and Macron’s
These elections have traditionally been a big repeat of the presidential ones. But this year, they will showcase one of France’s many fault lines, the relations of Paris
against the provinces.
Indeed, it would appear that the brand-new presidential party, La Republique en Marche (LREM), is seeing major breaks from party lines across cities, in particular due to its relationship with the rising ecologist movement.
Many local French politicians are forming alliances or giving instructions unthinkable just seven years ago.
The biggest examples being Lyon, with the incumbent LREM and formerly
socialist mayor, Gérard Collomb allying with the conservative party The Republicans.
Lille is however, probably the most shocking case, with the local conservatives calling its
voters to cast their ballots for incumbent socialist mayor Martine Aubry.
Explanations for this drastic change of heart, when we consider that many socialists recycled themselves in Macron’s party following 2017, stem from the provinces being more conservative and the resulting fears caused by the French green party.
Indeed, many of the greens’ policies stand at the far-left of the political spectrum in France and are shared with Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise. Examples of common policies range from anti-financialisation measures to the founding of a Sixth Republic.
This comes at a time where Macron has been making many moves towards this rising force, with laws such as the reduction of the speed limit, the catalysts of the Yellow Jacket
movement along with the tax on diesel, or the recent controversial Citizen’s Climate Convention.
The president’s decision is likely made to reinforce himself against La France Insoumise at the 2022 presidential election to obtain a favourable scenario of him against Le Pen at the runoff.
However, should En Marche stand defeated locally it would raise additional questions
regarding its viability as a new force in France’s political arena. It has indeed, already been marred by divisions at the national assembly, with MPs leaving the majority to form the group Ecology Democracy Solidarity.
This decisively stands in a poor light compared to other presidential parties, created by and for a candidate, like Jacques Chirac’s UMP (Union for a Popular Movement).
The election’s success is also crucial when it comes to mind that most parties obtain up to a third of their revenue from elected members.
Not only that, but parties stand to potentially earn a lot more this way, in the context of the provincial cities’ recent development thanks in part to recent innovations in communication technologies allowing for decentralisation and to Paris’s mismanagement at the hands of Hidalgo.
This lack of unity and uncertain future puts LREM and by extension Emmanuel
Macron, at a disadvantage not only for the upcoming presidential elections but for steering the Nation’s course in the tumultuous waters, it is likely to face as its GDP contracts by 11 per cent as reported by Bloomberg.
How can the French people listen to a President whose party has little to no local representation?
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