Why it matters. Regional elections, launch pad for 2022

Rejected, sometimes neglected or even completely forgotten, but still inevitable: the regional and departmental elections postponed by Parliament from March to June Tuesday evening will represent a final test within a year of the 2022 presidential election.

Why are the elections being postponed?

With the reformulation last November and the uncertainties about the development of the coronavirus epidemic, it proved difficult to maintain the regional and departmental elections on the dates originally planned for March.

In a report commissioned by the government advocating June. Former President of the Constitutional Council, Jean-Louis Debré, chose between those who wanted a postponement beyond the presidential elections and those who didn’t want to change anything. It is now up to the government to set the dates by decree. But Foreign Minister Marlène Schiappa has already announced that they will take place on June 13 and 20.

A final postponement?

Not necessarily. If sanitation conditions deteriorate, another postponement could be considered. The text, approved by a final vote of the Senate, plans to submit a government report to Parliament by April 1 at the latest, based on a committee analysis by scientists. It will “assess the health risks to be considered and the adjustments needed to conduct the polls and the election campaigns that precede them”.

What are the problems?

Seen from the right, the region can serve as a launch pad for a presidential candidate. A sort of area code between potential candidates like Laurent Wauquiez (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), Valérie Pécresse (Ile-de-France) or Xavier Bertrand (Hauts-de-France). Unless all three win, no one can succeed!

For their part, socialists and ecologists expect this election to confirm their good results in the local elections. The PS will try to conquer its five regions and the Greens, or at least establish itself as the dominant left force in the first round.

The majority approach these elections with as many challenges as they are dangers. She also appointed her head of the list with some difficulty, especially for Ile-de-France, after the Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer refused to apply.

Without waiting for the results of these polls, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI) and Marine Le Pen (RN) have already entered the regions to participate in the presidential elections. The National Rally that was close to victory six years ago in Hauts-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, where the left had withdrawn to block its path. He expects these elections to bolster his ambitions as president and his discourse on localism, but he could be feathers in some regions with competing lists to right-of-right.

How to campaign

This is the great unknown of this choice. The epidemic prevents meetings and handshakes in the markets while leaflets are being distributed. Given the likely impossibility of reaching voters, candidates need to be innovative.

The bill provides for an extension of the official campaign to 19 instead of 12 days. At the initiative of the candidates, a free telephone number will be set up so that voters can find out about their programs.

Despite these devices, many candidates say they are “skeptical” about the possibility of health campaigns.

What participation?

The epidemic is not the only challenge facing the candidates. You also need to mobilize voters. Regional and departmental elections typically have a lower turnout than local elections, and the epidemic could reduce polling rates, as in the second round of local elections in late June, which saw a historic abstention of almost 60%.

The Covid crisis gave the regions the opportunity to demonstrate their economic importance and act as driving forces in ordering masks or organizing tests.

To facilitate the exercise of the right to vote, each voter can have two proxies, usually against one.

Despite the health crisis, a Senate intelligence mission ruled out the use of postal or internet voting as these devices were not yet secure enough.

Who vote?

The voters of the 12 major metropolitan areas, which emerged five years ago from the territorial reform carried out under François Hollande’s five-year term, will be called to vote. This is a two-round vote, but proportionality is not complete as the leading list gets 25 of the seats to be filled.

The assemblies of Corsica, Guyana and Martinique are also renewed with different ballots. The departmental advisors are renewed in every canton, except in Paris and the metropolis of Lyon, in two rounds by a joint couple by majority vote.