More than half of France’s population abstain from voting in the first round of local elections as the coronavirus pandemic forces ‘non-essential’ facilities to close for an indefinite period.
As at 5 pm, voting offices register a participation level of around 39%, down 16 point from last year, France’s Interior Ministry said.
Some 48 million voters, including residents in France from other EU countries, are eligible to vote.
The elections will determine mayors and local councillors in 35,000 cities, towns and villages.
“Minimal life must continue. One must be able to buy food and to vote”, Macron said.
At the voting offices, strict hygienic procedures were put in place.
Municipalities have said they would regularly disinfect door handles and voting booths, while advising voters to bring their own writing implements.
The second round of elections is to be held next Sunday.