Among the biggest winners was Anne Hidalgo, who was re-elected Socialist Mayor of Paris for a second term of six years
A Green wave proved disastrous for French president Emmanuel Macron tonight as his party suffered significant loses in municipal elections.
An alliance between ecological candidates and traditional Left-wing ones saw Mr Macron’s candidates swept away.
Among the biggest winners was Anne Hidalgo, who was re-elected Socialist Mayor of Paris for a second term of six years.
Exit polls on Sunday night suggested she has won with 50.2 per cent of votes, in front of the conservative Republicans candidate Rachida Dati on 32 per cent.
Agnès Buzyn, the former health minister and candidate for Mr Macron’s LREM party (The Republic on the Move!) was pushed into third place, with only 16 per cent.
Ms Hidalgo’s comfortable win was the result of an alliance with Greens leader David Belliard, of the Europe Ecology-Greens.
Ms Hidalgo has pledged to continue her ambitious programme to cut pollution, encourage cycling and expand green spaces, while pedestrianising more of Paris.
Exit polls in major cities including Strasbourg and Lyon suggested that they had been won outright by the Greens.
French EELV (Europe Ecologie Les Verts) green party candidate for Lyon’s mayor Gregory Doucet raises his fist before delivering a speech, on June 28, 2020 in Lyon, following his victory after the second round of the mayoral election
France was holding the second round of municipal elections in 5,000 towns and cities on Sunday – one which were postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Voters chose mayors and municipal councillors at polling stations operating under strict hygiene rules.
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting with labour union representatives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Wednesday June 24, 2020
Face masks and hand gel were all made available, and those voting had to stay one metre apart.
The spread of Covid-19 has slowed significantly in France, following nearly 200,000 confirmed cases and 29,781 deaths. By 5pm on Sunday, voter participation was at just 34.67 per cent, compared to 38 per cent in March.
This is much lower than the participation rates during the 2014 municipal elections when it was already above 50 per cent at 5pm.
The polls are seen as a key political indicator ahead of the 2022 French presidential election.
Paris is a major battleground, because the mayor will oversee the 2024 Olympics.
Mr Macron’s three-year-old centrist party fielded municipal candidates for the first time but lacks deep rooted support.
His government has faced criticism during the pandemic over mask shortages, testing capacity and a lack of medical equipment.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo gets a bouquet of flowers after her victorious second round of the municipal election, Sunday
Despite this, Mr Macron’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe, won the post of Mayor in his hometown of Le Havre on Sunday night.
A government reshuffle is expected to be carried out by Mr Macron in the wake of Sunday’s result.
Opinion polls currently show Mr Macron’s popularity rating is hovering around 40 per cent – higher than before the virus outbreak.
The anti-immigration, far-right National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, was focusing on consolidating its 2014 results, when candidates backed by the party won in 12 towns.