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EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

Why are there so many large, metal boards springing up across France?

If you live in France you won't have failed to notice the large, metal boards springing up across the country's villages, towns and cities. So, what's going on?

Why are there so many large, metal boards springing up across France?
Photo: AFP

Most French villages are pretty tight on space to begin with but at the moment they're fit to bursting – not due to a random influx of tourists… but instead because tiny streets are being filled up with large metal boards. 

And this is happening in French towns and cities too. 

Here's a look at why pedestrians across France are now competing for space on the pavements.

What are the metal boards?

The reason for the invasion is all down to the European elections. 
 
French mayors are required by law to erect as many metal boards as there are political groups competing in any election.
 
That rule goes for small villages as well as large cities and it can put strain on places where there is limited available space. 
 
The European elections are due to take place on May 26th and mayors have been obliged to provide enough space for the election posters since Sunday. 
 

Why are they such a big problem this year?

This year there are a record number of political lists for the European elections, with 34 registered groups… which, you guessed it, means 34 metal boards. 

In many villages, such as Malloué in the Normandy region of Calvados, the situation is particularly bizarre, with the number of boards outnumbering the number of residents who can vote. 

In this northwestern French village, 34 boards and posters are being put up to guide and influence the votes of just 22 people.

And then there's the cost…

The high number of parties involved in this year's European elections is also putting pressure on the mayors' budgets in small villages where they don't already have the required number of boards.

“We have neither the means to buy them, nor the space to install them” said the mayor of Lempire, a village in the northen French department of Aisne, Thierry Cornaille.

The boards cost €100 each, according to the French press – no small sum for a tiny village. 

How do I vote in the European elections?

Irritation aside, this year's European elections are fast approaching and you may well want to vote in them. 

Here's a look at how you can still participate: What you need to know about voting in the crucial European elections

What you need to know about voting in the crucial European electionsPhoto: AFP

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EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

Down but not out: Macron eyes shakeup of European parliament

French President Emmanuel Macron tasted defeat in the European elections, but not disaster, and is set to continue pushing both his pro-EU agenda and a realignment of parties in the European Parliament.

Down but not out: Macron eyes shakeup of European parliament
Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) party finished second behind the far-right National Rally (RN) of his arch-rival Marine Le Pen, but the two parties ended up with less than 1.0 percentage point separating them — on 22.41 percent and 23.31 percent respectively.
   
The vote was seen as a test for Macron domestically after months of anti-government “yellow vest” protests, while his credibility in Europe as a champion of deeper integration was also judged to be on the line.
   
“A disappointment, but not a defeat for the Elysee,” headlined Le Parisien newspaper on Monday, while an editorial in the Les Echos business daily said Macron's party was “resisting well” two years after his election.
   
Macron on Monday held a meeting of key figures from the LREM — including Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the head of its list for the EU polls Nathalie Loiseau — to discuss the “next steps”, a presidential source said.
 
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EU election ANALYSIS: Cut the hysteria, Le Pen is not on her way to French presidencyPhoto: AFP

The 41-year-old's priority will now be trying to increase his influence in the European Parliament where LREM and its centrist allies will send 23 MEPs, the same number as Le Pen's RN.

His long-standing objective is to redraw the political map of the EU parliament, long dominated by the centre-right EPP grouping and the centre-left S&D — in the same way as he broke the stranglehold of France's traditional parties.
   
Macron's EU-level partners, who form the ALDE group, finished third in Sunday's polls, but the French leader is now aiming to broaden the coalition to include new partners, particularly Greens who made major gains.
   
“The group that we are going to join is going to be a swing group which will try to be a driver in the creation of a progressive alliance. Why not with the Greens?”, French government spokesman Sibeth Ndiaye told BFM television on Monday.
   
She added that ALDE would be renamed.
   
On Monday night, Macron will hold talks in Paris with victorious Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez whose Socialist party is set to become the biggest member of the S&D grouping after topping polls in Spain.
   
“At the European level, the president is still manoeuvring to form a large progressive alliance, a force that will be essential in the new parliament,” an aide to the French leader told AFP on Sunday.
 
Tricky Greens?
 
But Macron's ambitions, like his broader agenda for new EU initiatives, are likely to face resistance and it is far from certain that he can repeat his feat of fracturing Europe's centre-right and centre-left parties, as he did in France.
   
In a sign of the difficulties in proposing a deal with the Greens, influential and outspoken Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts appeared to rule out an alliance on Sunday, saying that Macron “couldn't give a shit” about the environment.
   
Lamberts, co-leader of the Greens, delivered a caustic speech to Macron when he visited the European Parliament in April last year, saying he had betrayed France's values of liberty, equality and fraternity.
   
Some analysts see the ALDE grouping as increasing its influence in the new parliament, but as remaining a distinct group along with the Greens.
   
“Centrists and liberals are now strong enough to say to the EPP and S&D, you need to work with us and organise a four-way coalition,” Sebastien Maillard from the Jacques Delors Institute, a think-tank, told AFP.
 
By AFP's Adam Plowright
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