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Coronavirus has forced the French government to postpone the second round of local elections:

France will postpone the second round of mayoral elections to June 21 due to the coronavirus outbreak, two political sources told Reuters on Monday.

Sources also said that the results of first round of local elections on Sunday would remain valid.

However, nobody really knows how long SARS-CoV-2 will be a major issue. Theoretically, the desired scenario implies mitigating the infections over a large period of time to allow the medical system to cope with the patients.

I am wondering if the second round can be postponed indefinitely.

Question: Is there a limit to how long the second round of French mayoral elections can be postponed?

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There is no limit because there is also no provision for that. Article L56 of the code électoral even provides that:

En cas de deuxième tour de scrutin, il y est procédé le dimanche suivant le premier tour.

In other words, any run-off has to take place the week after the first round of voting.

But, absent any constitutional provision to the contrary, anything and everything that is defined in a statute can in principle be undone by the parliament. Postponing the run-off at the last minute is a very ad hoc solution, not something that would be part of a well-defined procedure.

At this point, the government rescinded the décret calling the election and the parliament (both chambers) adopted a statute dealing with several issues arising from this (what to do with the results, etc.) In fact, that statute also extends the term of all town councils that haven't been replaced, as it could otherwise be deemed to expire.

It also provides that before setting a new date the government must publish the conclusions of its advisory scientific committee and that if it turns out to be impossible to organise the run-off in June then the election would be completely cancelled and the process should be restarted from scratch (new candidates, new ballots, new campaign, etc.)

Obviously, from a purely legal point of view, all these dispositions are also liable to be changed at any time should the parliament agree to do so.

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The Constitution is silent on how municipal governments are to be elected. The process is therefore set by ordinary statute, which the National Assembly can amend through the usual processes.

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  • Is there a statute you could reference? Or are you saying that when the government passes the bill to delay the elections they can delay them to any date, since there are no other restrictions on when the elections should be held? – divibisan Mar 25 at 22:28
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    The bill that gets passed will contain the new date of the election. If it needs to be extended again, the National Assembly can pass a new bill to that effect. – Joe C Mar 25 at 23:30
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    @divibisan Article L227 of the code électoral provides that the elections should happen in March, article L56 provides that the run-off should take place a week after the first round of voting. The exact date is set by a décret, as provided by the law. – Relaxed Mar 26 at 22:47
  • But Joe is right (+1), none of this matters very much, anything that is defined in a statute (or through an ordonnance) can just as easily be undone by the parliament. As long as there are no constitutional provisions against it (and there isn't), the parliament doesn't need a statute to allow this. The governement did need a vote to settle some technical issues (what to do with the results of the first round of voting, etc.) – Relaxed Mar 26 at 22:50

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