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France held local elections even after coronavirus related restrictions had to be put in place.

The article mentions only this rather general and vague reason for holding them:

Macron decided to go ahead with the elections last week, saying it was vital the democratic system to continue functioning.

Clearly holding an elections means that lots of people are walking around and since the coronavirus spreads much easier that other viruses, it kind of defeats the purpose of existing restrictions.

Isn't it possible to delay elections in France?

Also, it is expected that voter turnout to be lower due to people being afraid of going out.

Question: Why did the French government organized elections as planned in spite of coronavirus restrictions?

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    I don't think anyone can give an answer to this without mind-reading, but as a rule, postponing elections in a democratic country is not something an elected leader does lightly. Doing so without an extremely good reason will be interpreted by opponents as a dictatorial power grab, and assuming that one wants to win the subsequent election (not merely grab power and establish a tyranny), the optics are horrible. "Yes, I know it's time for voters to decide if they want to replace me, but why don't we just put that off for a few months..." Yeah, right... – Ted Wrigley Mar 15 at 16:34
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    @TedWrigley I'm sure you're aware that the UK has postponed its local and London mayoral elections for a year, but it should be pointed out that the Tories are well ahead in the polls, while Macron is currently not. Perhaps one is less likely to be accused of a power grab when one postpones an election generally expected to be a success for the ruling party. I agree that it's unlikely this question can be answered satisfactorily. – CDJB Mar 15 at 16:41
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    @CDJB: No I wasn't aware of that. Is that due to covid? – Ted Wrigley Mar 15 at 16:50
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    @TedWrigley Yes, has also been backed by Labour. – CDJB Mar 15 at 16:51
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    There is also a question of politics and timing : thursday morning all parties asked that it be maintained, so they had to, but then the confinement measures were decided, which seemed to contradict the possibility to vote. But politically it was too late, cancelling the elections would go against advice given by all parties on thursday. Since Macron was expected to lose the elections (which he mostly did), cancelling the election after every other party expressed against it would have been seen as an antidemocratic political maneuver. – gdelab Mar 16 at 9:46
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Scientists advising the government told them that, with appropriate measures (such as soap everywhere, >1m distance between everyone, etc.), it was no more dangerous than going to buy some food, which is still authorized. The full scientific advice has not been published yet (it should be though), but here is the head of the scientific committee confirming it :

Le conseil scientifique a considéré qu’il n’y avait pas d’élément pour penser qu’il y aurait un surrisque pour ces personnes à condition que les élections soient organisées de façon pratique

The scientific committee considered there was no element indicating more risk [to go vote than to go shopping] for those people [elderly people], if the elections are organized in a practical way.

There is also a question of politics and timing : on Thursday morning all parties asked that it be maintained (in particular the right-wing Senate president, who is now blamed for it), so they had to decide that. However, later the same day, the confinement measures were decided, which seemed to contradict the possibility to vote. But politically it was too late, cancelling the elections would go against advice given by all parties on Thursday morning. Since Macron was expected to lose the elections (which he mostly did), cancelling the election after every other party expressed against it would have been seen as an antidemocratic political maneuver.

Some of the opposition parties have since then declared that they only accepted to maintain the elections before the confinement measures were decided, and thus that they could not decide in all knowledge, and would have changed their minds after the confinement measures were announced.

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