Turnout low as France votes in new Macron, Le Pen test – News Vibe24

    Turnout low as France votes in new Macron, Le Pen test - Times of India
    PARIS: France voted in the second round of regional elections on Sunday, which is seen as a test for central President Emmanuel Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen, but with the turnout so far showing no improvement from the miserable turnout in the first phase.
    The first round on June 20 saw Macron’s ruling party suffer from another poll, and Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) fell short of expectations.
    This has led some observers to say that it is far from the clear conclusion that the 2022 presidential election will end in a duel between the two rivals.
    The results of the first round marked a boost for the traditional right-wing Republicans as well as the Socialist Party, who were squeezed when the central Macron came to power in 2017 with the brand new Republic on the Move (LREM) party.
    Analysts warn that there will not be too much deviation from the results of the regional elections for the leaders of the 13 mainland regions of France – from Brittany in the northwest to the Provence-Alpes-C .te d’Azur region (PACA) in the southeast.
    However, there was cross-party concern about the turnout in last week’s polls, avoiding 66.72% of voters, a record in modern France, a sign of a growing gap between voters and the political elite.
    With the participation rate being recorded at only 27.89 percent at 5:00 p.m. in the second round – just one point higher than at the same stage last week – there was little hope of any drastic improvement.
    “I do not really know what the point is,” said Helene Debotte, 31, who said she would not vote in the polls but in the presidential election. “There, it is clear what is at stake.”
    Polls show that most French people do not know who leads their regions and what entities do.
    “I’m going to vote, but I do not know what it’s worth,” said retired Hugues Hubert, 66. “What will the candidates do? No idea!”
    The results of the first round put Le Pen’s RN in front of a single area, Provence-Alpes-C Αte d’Azur (PACA), a major disappointment for them following election polls that suggested a possible breakthrough in several areas.
    One of the most watched matches on Sunday will be whether RN candidate Thierry Mariani can beat his right-hand opponent, Renaud Muselier.
    Gaining control of an area for the first time would be a huge boost for Le Pen as he tries to convince voters that the RN – which he has redefined since taking over Jean-Marie’s father – is a serious ruling party.
    Muselier could be helped by the withdrawal of left-wing candidates, an example of the “Republican Front” seen in previous presidential elections to curb the far right.
    Critics have accused Mariani of admiring writers such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Prime Minister Jean-Castex warned last week that Marianne’s victory would be “very serious” for the country.
    The RN also ended up in the Ile-de-France region which includes Paris. The 25-year-old rising star of Jordan Bardella failed to annoy the right-wing incumbent Valerie Pecresse, who is a favorite to hold a coalition of the left and the Greens.
    The heavyweight right-wing Xavier Bertrand, meanwhile, seems to be holding back the northeastern Hauts-de-France, boosting his credibility as the 2022 presidential contender from the traditional right.
    The results of the first round made an unpleasant reading for Macron and his LREM, confirming the party’s failure to overthrow local and regional roots despite control of the presidency and parliament.
    Although he sent several ministers on a campaign and Macron himself embarked on a nationwide tour – which saw him hit by a member of the public at one point – in some areas the LREM did not raise the required 10 percent to make the second round. .
    “2022: What if it wasn’t?” asked the headline in the left-wing Liberation newspaper for a photo of Macron and Le Pen.
    The LREM has almost no chance of gaining control of an individual area and is currently just number five among political parties in France.
    The Socialists are expected to retain several areas, in part due to second-round agreements with the French party Unbowed (LFI) and the Ecology of Green Europe – The Greens (EELV).
    With the help of the left, the EELV, meanwhile, still wants a chance to take over the Pays de la Loire area with candidate Matthieu Orphelin, a former member of Macron’s party.
    Voting started at 8:00 am (06:00 GMT) on Sunday, with the last polls closing 12 hours later.


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