The second round of French municipal elections on Sunday was marked by a strong environmental push in several large cities and the capture of Perpignan by the far right. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was re-elected in Le Havre.
From Lyon to Strasbourg via Bordeaux, the big cities were therefore adorned with green on Sunday evening, after a second round which confirmed, and even amplified, the hopes of ecologists born during the 1st round on March 15 .
In Paris, where uncertainty was low, outgoing Anne Hidalgo (PS) allied with environmentalists, far outstripped her competitors, the right-wing candidate Rachida Dati and the former health minister Agnès Buzyn. Ms. Hidalgo had endorsed a resolutely green program.
This green surge should lead Emmanuel Macron to intervene on Monday morning by receiving at the Elysée Palace the members of the Citizens Convention on the climate to which he intends to provide ‘strong responses’ and ‘up to the challenges and expectations’, fact know the Elysée at AFP.
Big cities go green
The head of state should generally specify, in the coming days, his stated intention to ‘reinvent himself’ for the last two years of his mandate. But the results of Sunday make the ecological theme essential.
The Greens even did a double blow in Lyon: Bruno Bernard won the metropolis there, seat of real power, and Grégory Doucet the city.
The situation is more confused in Marseille where the environmental candidate Michèle Rubirola, at the head of a left coalition, claimed a ‘relative victory’, believing that ‘the right is no longer able to govern’ the city. But the right-wing candidate Martine Vassal refused to admit her defeat, ensuring that there was at this stage ‘no majority in Marseille’.
The Greens were also able to claim victory in Strasbourg and Bordeaux. In the northern capital on the other hand, the outgoing mayor PS Martine Aubry ended up winning by a hair against the green candidate.
Other major cities – Besançon, Tours, Poitiers, Annecy – have fallen into the hands of the Greens, who have long served as an auxiliary force but assert themselves as the first to the left before the next elections. In Grenoble, the ecologist Eric Piolle, at the head of a broad left coalition, announced his re-election with more than 50% of the votes.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also comes out strengthened after his comfortable re-election in his stronghold of Le Havre, with almost 59% of the vote.
On the strength of his success, could Mr. Philippe be comforted in his position when a major government reshuffle is looming? Or suffer from a hypothetical ecological turn at the top?
According to an interactive Harris survey for TF1, LCI and RTL on Sunday evening, a majority of French people (55%) want him to remain Prime Minister and 59% want environmental ministers in the government in the event of a reshuffle.
Three months after a first round already upset by the coronavirus crisis, this second round was also marked by a participation rate at half mast, between 40% and 41% according to estimates, against 62.1% in 2014.
This disaffection of the ballot boxes sounds like ‘a form of cold insurrection’, according to the rebellious chief (radical left) Jean-Luc Mélenchon. It aroused the ‘concern’ of Emmanuel Macron, for whom this abstention is ‘not very good news‘, according to the Elysée.
Far right in Perpignan
Emmanuel Macron’s main national opponent, the Rassemblement national won Perpignan. The ex-companion of Marine Le Pen, Louis Aliot, gives back to the party control of its first city of more than 100,000 inhabitants since 1995 and Toulon. The party also won Bruay-la-Bussière (Pas-de-Calais) and Moissac (Tarn-et-Garonne).
“It is not only a symbolic victory, it is a real trigger, because we will also be able to demonstrate that we are capable of managing large communities,” said Le Pen.
Very weakened at the national level, the Socialist Party and The Republicans (‘traditional’ right) counted on these elections to recover their health locally. The PS therefore retained Paris, Lille, Rennes, Nantes, Le Mans, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon and delighted Nancy, Montpellier and Saint-Denis, stronghold of the Communist party.
The Republicans confirmed their establishment by winning in the first round many of the cities with more than 9,000 inhabitants they controlled. On Sunday, they kept Toulouse and Nice.