Regional elections kick off in France

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French Embassy
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The first round of regional elections kicked off in France on Sunday, in what is to be a bellwether for upcoming presidential elections next spring.

Almost 46 million people are eligible to vote for local political offices.

The polls opened first in the French overseas territory La Reunion, and will close last in Martinique and Guadeloupe.

All eyes will be on the right-wing parties during the vote. Polls predict Marine Le Pen’s National Rally could win about a quarter of votes, and possibly win one or several regions for the first time in the run-off, due on June 27.

During the last elections in December 2015, the far-right party performed well and led in the first round, but ultimately failed to win any of the regions.
Current polls view National Rally ahead in five of the 13 mainland regions.

Observers also predict a duel between Le Pen and governing President Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election.

Macron’s party LREM is only loosely anchored in the regions. As the local and central governments have very different competences, his party losing in regional elections does not necessarily mean a lack of support for Macron.

Polls suggest turnout could be as low as 40 per cent on Sunday, in the election that was postponed from March due to the pandemic.

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