The second round of the French mayoral elections took place Sunday, June 28th. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2nd round was held more than three months after the first round instead of a regular electoral procedure with a one week delay between the two rounds.
Three main characteristics stand out:
A record abstention for a set of elections that traditionally mobilize the French citizens. The average participation rate for the two rounds reached 42%, much lower than the 63% in 2014, 65,5% in 2008 and 66,5% in 2001;
- A significant surge of the Greens, most of the time allied with the Socialists and/or the local left-leaning groups, in large cities (Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux...) often gaining votes among the urban and rather socially privileged electorate which had voted for the current presidential majority in the last presidential elections of 2017 but also gaining back the traditional left vote in underprivileged cities;
- A dropping support for the far-right party Rassemblement National, who won only 840 councillor seats won in 258 towns as compared to its 2014 outbreak (1,438 councillor seats in 463 towns).
Even if it is too early to draw a more in-depth analysis because of the exceptional period, the results of these elections fall in line with a two decades long trend of fragmentation of the French political landscape, which has been in place for more than half a century but which is going through a reset left in fallow land. The political parties and personalities that emerge with each election find it difficult to confirm their leadership in the following ones, in a context of zapping where the French are testing but not confirming for the time being. Political life remains very fragmented in a country not accustomed to coalitions, with several blocks, the rather radical left, the center (which may include the moderate left and the center-right), conservatives who are losing ground on their right and on their left, and right-wing populist/extremist, rather stable but with no margin for progress or possibility of alliance for the moment.