French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party suffered a major defeat in municipal elections held on Sunday.

According to the exit polls, the Republic on the Move (LREM) party lost major cities while Europe Ecology, the Green party (EELV), won in Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Poitiers, Besancon and Marseille.

The second round of polls was scheduled to be held on March 22 but was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Some 16.5 million eligible voters in around 5,000 cities and towns cast their ballots at polling stations after the first round failed to produce a decisive outcome.

They were required to wear face masks and bring their own pens to reduce the risk of contamination.

A total of 34,967 mayors and deputy mayors were elected in the first and second rounds.

Around 60% of voters abstained — a historical record. Abstention was only 37.87% in the second round in 2014.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe defeated a Communist challenger for the mayor’s office in Le Havre with 58.83% of the vote.

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