French scientific council not opposed to local election run-off in June

Voting at a polling station in Lyon, France, during the first round of local elections on March 15, 2020.
Voting at a polling station in Lyon, France, during the first round of local elections on March 15, 2020. © Jeff Pachoud, AFP

France's scientific council said Tuesday that it is not opposed to the holding of a second round of local elections in June, although it noted the "significant" health risks inherent in an election campaign. The panel advised the government to reevaluate the conditions for the vote 15 days before it is held.

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French voters went to the polls for the first round of nationwide local elections on March 15, two days before the country imposed strict lockdown measures amid the coronavirus outbreak. A second and final round of voting, initially due to take place on March 22, was postponed. Although 30,000 municipalities elected their officials in the first round, 5,000 more require a run-off.

The scientific council advising the government on the pandemic sought "to emphasise that the health situation had markedly improved compared to the start of the lockdown", it said in the advice published Tuesday. "However, it is difficult to anticipate an uncertain situation for the weeks to come."

The panel noted that there are "significant health risks linked to an electoral campaign... If the elections are organised, the organisation of the campaign should be profoundly modified".

The body asked that health conditions be reevaluated 15 days before any vote is held and that sustained monitoring take place during the 15 days that follow the election.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe asked the council at the end of March to deliver its advice on the holding of a second vote, but the government has not systematically followed the panel's advice throughout the pandemic.

More than 28,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in France, which began easing lockdown measures on May 11.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

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