France will celebrate tomorrow one of the most unusual elections of its history, with the invisible threat of the coronavirus lurking in the polling stations and the second round of the elections in the air, pending the evolution of the epidemic. A call to the polls, in addition, in which a record abstention for fear of contagion is feared, and in which the project of Emmanuel Macron, which all the polls give as a great loser of the appointment, is tested.
This has not been a campaign like the others. For the past two weeks, the Covid-19 has garnered all the media attention, while the political issues at stakeIssues such as the environment, the cleaning of cities, the price of accommodation, security or public services, seem today to be matters of another life, the one in which the coronavirus had not engulfed the daily life of citizens.
IN ITS CONTEXT:
Mayors are at stake in the elections that start tomorrow in France, and in which 48 million French are called to vote.
- One hundred people maximum – Campaign without public.
The limitation of the concentrations to a hundred people led yesterday and Thursday to cancel rallies and precipitated an end of campaign overturned in the networks.
- Sanitary measures – Safety distance.
The electoral colleges will be disinfected before and after the elections. Voters must maintain a safe distance in queues.
- Untouched – The pen, from home.
The government has asked voters to take the pen from home to avoid indirect contacts. There will also be disinfectant gel and sinks.
- Electoral apathy – Little political interest.
Political messages have barely interested a population more concerned with how they will care for their children with the closure of schools since Monday.
The restrictions imposed by the authorities on human concentrations, limited from Monday to a maximum of 1,000 people and from yesterday to no more than 100, have given the campaign a highlight. The candidates they cascaded their acts and turned to digital encounters and on social networks, in the face of the indifference of the majority of citizens, much more concerned with what is immediate, about how they will take care of their children as of Monday, when all the schools in the country close, or how they will carry out their business in the midst of this sanitary earthquake, which has also become an economic crisis.
The mayoralties of 35,000 municipalities are in dispute, and everything points to The Republic in March (LREM), the game that Macron has made in his image and likeness, is going to take a huge bump. The training, founded in 2016, is presented for the first time to some municipal governments, it hardly has structures in the different territories and neither does the social unrest generated by the star reform of the mandate, that of the pension system, which ultimately it had to be approved on the basis of a decree. Polls suggest that the traditional left-right duel, which seemed exhausted after the LREM eruption in 2017, is back in force, and will be replicated in cities like Paris.
About 48 million French people are called to the polls tomorrow for the first round and next day 22 for the second, but many have already decided that they won’t do it for fear of the virus. Polls show how the forecasts for participation fell with the same speed at which infections spread. The Ifop institute foresees a 42% abstention, six points more than in the last elections, and could be even greater in large cities such as Paris or Lyon, where the OpinionWay political studies center believes that less than half of voters will exercise your right to vote.
Two bad options
Against this background, postponing the elections was a more than reasonable option that President Macron has pondered until the last moment. However, according to the Elysium, the scientific council that advises the president has guaranteed its maintenance. The argument is simple: although the authorities have asked those over 70 and the most vulnerable to restrict home exitsThey will still have to go shopping, “and going to vote is comparable to going to the supermarket,” said yesterday the president of the National Consultative Committee on Ethics, the immunologist Jean François Delfraissy.
But political pressure from the opposition has also weighed heavily on the decision. When the rumor that they could be postponed Elections extended on Thursday, the opposition went into a rage. Many mayors were clearly against it and it was even denounced that it was a “coup d’état”, as claimed by the president of the conservative Republicans, Christian Jacob.
Without political consensus, make the decision of the postponement, already legally complex and for which it would be necessary to resort to exceptional measures, was finally rejected. As a Macron collaborator confided to ‘Le Monde’, any option was bad: «If we postpone the elections, they would accuse us of wanting to save time because they predict a defeat; if we maintain them, they will accuse us of not having correctly measured the severity of the epidemic.
But the elections are not over this Sunday and, if the outbreak progresses in France as it has in other countries, logic says that a Damocles sword hangs over the second round the next day 22.