The first round of regional elections has started in France
Photo: Ludovic Marin / dpa
The first round of regional and departmental elections in France showed a historically low turnout: According to projections from Sunday afternoon, more than two thirds of the approximately 48 million eligible voters abstained.
The right-wing populist Marine Le Pen in particular could benefit from this in the last mood test before the presidential election in less than a year.
The calculations of the survey institutes show the greatest disinterest in such an election in the post-war period: the abstention is likely to be between 66.5 and 68.6 percent, according to projections for the public broadcaster France Télévisions and the private broadcaster BFM-TV.
The last polling stations should close at 8 p.m.
By Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m., only 26.7 percent of eligible voters had cast their vote, as the Interior Ministry announced in Paris.
That was around 16 percentage points less than in the last regional elections in December 2015 at this time and in the last departmental elections in March 2015. In the two previous votes around 5 p.m., around 43 percent of the voters had participated.
According to opinion polls, the low turnout will primarily benefit Le Pen's Rassemblement National (RN, National Collection Movement) party.
According to polls, they could become the strongest force in the more important regional elections and win in six of the 13 central French regions.
The presidential party La République en Marche (LREM, The Republic on the Move) of incumbent Emmanuel Macron, however, was predicted a defeat.
Le Pen has declared the elections to be a vote on Macron's reform course and his corona policy.
She wants to challenge the 43-year-old in the presidential elections next spring.
According to surveys, a close race is expected.
In the last presidential election in 2017, Macron had clearly prevailed against Le Pen in the runoff election with around 66 percent.
mjm / AFP