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19 Apr, 2020 12:14

‘Why risk so many lives?’ asks French town councilor, as several mayors reported dead of coronavirus after non-banned election

‘Why risk so many lives?’ asks French town councilor, as several mayors reported dead of coronavirus after non-banned election

Paris' decision to hold a municipal vote in France days before putting the nation gripped by the Covid-19 epidemic on total lockdown is “hard to understand,” a town councilor has told RT as the poll turned out to be a disaster.

On March 15, municipal elections were held across France as the country was battling the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The government decided to go ahead with the vote despite the fact that the nation had already seen thousands infected and the number of deaths linked to the dreaded disease was nearing 100.

Also on rt.com ‘Failed liberalism left us without masks’: Covid-19 crisis exposed Western liberal democracy, brought back ideals of ‘sovereignty’

As it later turned out, this decision proved to be fatal. The French media reported that at least four municipal heads, including mayors and their deputies, died of Covid-19 in the weeks after the election after they were present at polling stations on the day of the vote. Dozens of other municipal officials, who also worked at various polling stations across France, got infected around the same time. Statistics on the voters doesn’t even exist.

Hard to understand

The risks of holding the elections were obvious from the very beginning, Jean-Louis Passarieu, a town councilor in the Paris southern suburb of Vigneux-sur-Seine, told RT France. Putting the lives of so many people at risk at a time when almost all public and entertainment venues were closed already was “something that is difficult to understand,” he said. He particularly questioned the government’s reasoning on “sending people to the polling stations” just days before imposing a nationwide quarantine.

Also on rt.com ‘Why did we vote?’ French election officials sick a week after controversial ballot held amid Covid-19

Still, he argued that there was hardly any political ploy behind the move, since the voting outcome was not particularly favorable for President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche! (Republic on the Move) party. Yet, the town councilor from Jean-Luc Melenchon’s left-wing La France insoumise (Unbowed France) still holds the government accountable for the consequences of the vote.

“Their predictive modeling was insufficient in any case.”

Macron himself already “took full responsibility” for holding the elections in the face of criticism leveled by the opposition. He justified his decision by saying he did not want the people to see the postponement of the vote as some sort of “manipulation.”

We were on the frontlines

Macron maintained that he would have postponed the vote should France's scientific council have told him it would endanger the health of the people. The president went on to say that the French “were undoubtedly more infected these days in bars or in the streets in the open air rather than at the polling stations.”

Passarieu questions this statement by saying that at a certain point, people ran out of protective gloves at several stations, and officials also lacked protective masks.

Also on rt.com 'They have been LYING from the start,' lawyer tells RT as medics sue French PM, ex-minister over Covid-19 inaction

Eventually, the vote counters had to sit in groups of four while virtually rubbing shoulders. “We were really feeling that we were primarily exposed to the risk of infection,” Passarieu said, adding that many officials in Vigneux-sur-Seine, including the head of his party’s local election campaign team, got infected as “undoubtedly” happened in other places too.

Paris has since decided to postpone the second round of the municipal elections. According to the French media, it could take place in June or even at some point in the autumn.

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