A practical guide to French local elections
After French voters cast their ballots in the second and final round of local elections on Sunday, FRANCE 24 brings you a practical guide explaining how the vote works and what is at stake.
What are local elections in France?
Local elections allow French voters to elect officials who serve a three-year term on the local council running each of France’s 4,000 cantons (a canton is the smallest territorial unit in France). The local council manages the canton’s social policies and administrative duties (attribution of welfare subsidies, processing of adoption applications, etc.) and oversees its infrastructure projects, educational and cultural institutions, and monuments.
Who won the first round?
In the first round on March 20, opposition Socialists placed first with 25 percent of the votes, followed by President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party with 17 percent. The far-right National Front party came in just behind with 15 percent, which is a record for the party.
What is at stake in the elections?
Just like mayors, officials who sit on local councils elect France's senators. Next September, elections will take place to fill half of the seats in the French Senate. Though the Senate is usually dominated by the centre-right UMP party, the body could tilt towards the opposition this time around, as fewer French conservatives have been voted onto the local councils in recent years. Moreover, the local elections will be the last time French voters head to the polls before the presidential election of 2012. The results of the local elections will therefore be seen as an indication of the national mood just over one year before the presidential poll.