May 20, 2020 / 10:37 PM / 2 months ago

France considers holding final round of local elections at end of June

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe reacts next to French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner before a meeting with all the political party leaders as the country began a gradual end to the nationwide lockdown following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, France May 20, 2020. Thomas Coex/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government is considering holding the final round of mayoral elections at the end of June or redoing the elections completely in January 2021, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told all party leaders on Wednesday.

Out of the 35,000 cities, towns and villages that France counts, about 30,000 have already elected their mayor in the first round. But many French large cities are among the 5,000 remaining, including Paris, Lyon and Marseille.

Philippe said the elections could only be held at the end of June if conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic would allow it and that no final decision had been made, according to party leaders.

A postponement beyond July 1 would require cancelling the results of elections held in March for the cities that did not elect a mayor at the first round and organising a new ballot.

The first round was just two days before the start of a nationwide lockdown, to the bewilderment of many as Philippe then said the vote would go ahead even as he declared all cafes, bars, cinemas and non-essential shops would close until further notice.

France is the world’s fourth worst-hit country in terms of deaths from the novel coronavirus. Its lockdown started to ease last week.

“The majority of the participants are in favour of a ballot on 28 June,” the head of centrist UDI party Jean-Christophe Lagarde told Reuters, asking for a postponement of the vote to 2021.

The organisation of a second round at the end of June “is the preferred option, it seems,” said Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Grant McCool

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