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People turned out in low numbers and wearing face masks to vote on Sunday in France's delayed second round of municipal elections, a mid-term test for President Emmanuel Macron and his ruling party which could fail to win a single big city. Projections showed she had largely seen off her closest rival, conservative Rachida Dati.
Yannick Jadot, head of the Europe Ecology - Green Party (EELV), said the results proved that Macron had been "in denial" over growing public demand for ambitious measures to fight climate change.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo gets a bouquet of flowers after her victorious second round of the municipal election, Sunday, June 28, 2020 in Paris. The Greens went from controlling just one major French city - Grenoble - to capturing a string of other large and mid-sized towns, including Bordeaux, Lyon, Strasbourg and Besançon.
Yet overall, only 40 per cent of the country's 16.5 million eligible voters cast ballots, a record-low turnout that reflected both disapproval of Macron and coronavirus contagion fears.More news: Asia Today: Kim urges North Koreans to keep up virus fight
Organisers also wore gloves and masks and in some places were kept apart from voters by plastic screens. Mail-in voting isn't allowed in France.
Ms Hidalgo, Paris' current mayor, is supported by EELV and the Communists.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, in charge of organizing the elections, said that "everywhere across France, health measures. were able to be respected".
The electoral process was suspended after the first round of the nationwide municipal elections on March 15, which produced decisive outcomes in 30,000 mostly small communes.
The yellow vest economic justice protests that brought France to its knees for months in 2018 and 2019 knocked some of Macron's green agenda off track as it was triggered by opposition to a new fuel tax that he planned to help fund the climate fight.More news: Former presidential candidate Herman Cain hospitalized after COVID-19 diagnosis
The spread of the coronavirus has slowed significantly in France in recent weeks and nearly all restrictions on social and business activity have been gradually lifted over the last month.
Mr Macron hopes an coming cabinet reshuffle will reinvigorate his party's fortunes.
Formed by president Emanuel Macron in 2016, LREM was contesting local body elections for the first time.
His party, Republic on the Move, didn't have candidates in every race and in some instances was backing local politicians from the left or the right instead. The first results were expected from 8 p.m. local time.
The conservative Republicans party, which was the big victor in the 2014 municipal election and has a strong network of local elected officials, appeared to do well again.More news: RIDEAU HALL: Police operation 'resolved safely'
Mr Macron's centrist political movement was left with a bloody nose in Sunday's poll with many of its local candidates unable to replicate the success the party had seen on the national stage.