Until the last day of the campaign, Chafa Zehmoul was giving kisses, hugs and handshakes left and right. For weeks, she and her team markets kicked in, they did the door to door, they organized rallies and entered the houses of their neighbors in Saint Fons. The symptoms began the day after the elections. Muscle aches, fever and cough. His collaborators gradually fell. After two days the hospitalizations began. This Monday, twenty people from his team have been affected by Covid-19, four are still admitted, one of them in serious condition. “It is a real catastrophe,” laments the candidate by phone from her home in this town on the Lyon periphery, where she has been incarcerated ever since.
History repeats itself in dozens of French towns, where mayors, councilors and municipal candidates have received the impact of the coronavirus epidemic with all their severity. The political class mourned the death of former Minister Patrick Devedjian this week, but locally the blow is even harder. The virus does not understand politics or geography, and infections spread in rural and urban areas, left and right, in the north and south, with serious consequences. At least three council members have died, while dozens of municipal advisers, presidents, and board members have been infected.
“The message was contradictory from the Government, because they told us that the elderly should stay at home, that it was dangerous to leave, but that we could go to vote,” says the candidate, head of the list of a small party in local civil society who was fourth in the first round of the elections. Zehmoul and his team caught the disease during the campaign and probably unwittingly helped spread the epidemic among their neighbors. The candidate is preparing a lawsuit against Prime Minister Édouard Philippe for keeping the date of the elections despite the risks. And what good was it? Many people stayed at home for fear of contagion, the results are not even representative, “he laments. At Saint Fons, abstention exceeded 70%.
The drip on new contagions related to the elections is constant. In Coudekerque-Branche, a town bordering Dunkerque, half of Mayor David Bailleul’s list – 17 people in total – have been victims, more or less serious, of the virus. All of them were in some electoral college on the 15th as interveners. «Mathematically we are in the mean incubation time. Democracy is priceless but has a health cost, “Bailleul explained this week to ‘La Voix du Nord’. In Marseille, several Republican candidates have also tested positive and are also planning actions against the Government.
The Executive was doubting until the last moment whether it should postpone the elections. The Thursday before the elections, in a solemn speech to the nation, the president, Emmanuel Macron, assured that the scientific Comittee adviser judged it safe to hold them. In France, there were already more than 2,800 infected and 61 deceased. Two days after the French went to the polls, the government decreed mandatory confinement. The second lap was obviously postponed.
It is possible that Macron’s decision also weighed the visceral rejection that the possibility of postponing them it had generated part of the opposition. The president of the right-wing majority party, Christian Jacob, went on to say that postponing them would be like giving a “coup.” Jacob was infected shortly after by the coronavirus and this Monday he deposited in the Executive the only responsibility to maintain them.