People in France are voting in the final round of municipal elections, which are expected to yield a low voter turnout and a rebuke for the party of President Emmanuel Macron.
The opening round was held on March 15, just as the coronavirus pandemic was gaining momentum. The second phase, scheduled for March 22, was postponed after France went into lockdown on March 17.
Despite a record abstention rate of 55 percent, the first round yielded a decisive outcome in some 85 percent, or 30,000, of French communes.
This means political power remains up for grabs on Sunday in about 5,000 undecided municipal councils, including the key centres of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Strasbourg.
Some 16.5 million people are registered to vote, with those turning out required to wear a face mask and urged to bring their own pens to minimise coronavirus contagion risk.
Analysts expect the election will confirm that Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party – founded by the president ahead of his 2017 election win – has failed to gain a strong foothold at the local level.
Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo is forecast to hold on to the capital in Sunday’s vote.
With a death toll approaching 30,000, France has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Most restrictions have now been eased, but there is widespread anger at the government over shortages of protective equipment, including face masks, in the early stages of the pandemic