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Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo declared victory in her fight to win re-election in the French capital on Sunday, which will allow her to oversee the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Hidalgo, a Socialist Party member, beat conservative candidate Rachida Dati in France’s municipal elections, according to estimations based on partial results. She was first elected as Paris mayor in 2014.
She is backed by the Europe Ecology – The Greens party (EELV), which gained strong influence nationwide in Sunday’s voting.
The second round of the municipal elections, which had been postponed amid the coronavirus crisis, has seen a record low turnout amid concerns over the pandemic.
Only 40 percent of voters cast ballots as French voters were required to wear masks, maintain social distancing while in queues and carry their own pens to sign voting registers.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, in charge of organising the elections, said that “today, everywhere across France, health measures … were able to be respected. That is a satisfaction.” Yet he “regretted” the low turnout.
Macron’s government under the spotlight
Voting was suspended after the first round of the nationwide municipal elections on March 15, which produced decisive outcomes in 30,000 mostly small communes. French President Emmanuel Macron‘s critics say he shouldn’t have allowed the first round to go ahead at all, since it was held just as infections were exploding across Europe and just two days before France introduced sweeping nationwide lockdown measures.
The spread of the coronavirus has slowed significantly in France in recent weeks and almost all restrictions on social and business activity have been gradually lifted over the last month. France has reported nearly 200,000 confirmed cases and 29,781 deaths in the pandemic but experts believe all reported figures are undercounts due to limited testing and missed mild cases.
The elections, though ostensibly focused on local concerns, are also seen as a key political indicator ahead of the 2022 French presidential election.
Macron had said he wasn’t considering the elections as a pro- or anti-government vote.
Yet a government reshuffle is expected in the coming weeks, as Macron seeks a new political boost amid the economic difficulties prompted by the virus crisis.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)