Low turnout as France votes in local polls Jun 29, 2020 0 666 12345 AFPParisFrench voters abstained in their millions on Sunday from a final round of municipal elections predicted to deal a blow to the party of President Emmanuel Macron.Amid persistent fears of coronavirus contagion, just over a third of voters had turned out by 5:00 pm, three hours before polling stations close, the interior ministry said.The turnout rate of 34.67 percent was lower even than nine hours into the first round of voting on March 15 that was marked by a record 55-percent abstention rate.Three polling agencies predicted participation would reach no more than 41 percent by the day’s close, compared to 62.2 percent in 2014.Polls opened for some 16.5 million eligible voters at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) in nearly 5,000 cities and towns where the first election round failed to yield a decisive outcome.This represents about 15 percent of the country’s municipal councils where power remains up for grabs, including the key cities of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Strasbourg.The opening election round was held just as the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining deadly momentum, but the second phase, originally scheduled for March 22, was postponed after France went into lockdown.A new date was set after the government’s scientific council said it was possible to hold another round safely, but voters were required to wear face masks and urged to bring their own pens to lower the contamination risk.Many voters and election officials sported germ-blocking plastic visors, and plexiglass screens were erected between them at several polling stations, which also provided sanitising hand gel.“If one can go shopping, why not go vote?” said an undeterred Martine Legros, 67, who cast her ballot in Dijon in eastern France. RELATED ARTICLES Poles vote in high numbers in presidential election amid coronavirus pandemic Jun 29, 2020 0 644 Global COVID-19 infection cases surpass 10 million Jun 29, 2020 0 256 Russian mining giant admits waste ‘violations’ at Arctic plant Jun 29, 2020 0 640 Trump ouster will not mend trans-Atlantic ties: Germany’s Maas DPA Berlin The ouster of US President Donald Trump in November elections would not suffice in mending diplomatic relations between Washington and Berlin, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told DPA in an interview .. No COVID-19 deaths for first time in Madrid since onset of pandemic MADRID: Spain’s capital Madrid said on Sunday that they had recorded no deaths as a results of the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the first such occurrence since the start of the pandemic. “Great news - yesterday .. UK could lock down city of Leicester after virus surge London The central English city of Leicester could be the country’s first to face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Sunday. The Midlands city recorded 658 new .. Democrats slam Trump as White House downplays spike in virus cases WASHINGTON: The number of coronavirus cases continued to spike across much of the United States on Sunday as the White House downplayed the severity of new outbreaks and sought to deflect responsibility on to local .. Trump denies he was briefed on Russia-Taliban bounty intelligence AFP Washington US President Donald Trump denied on Sunday being briefed on intelligence that reportedly showed Russia had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan. The .. Trump tweets -- then deletes -- video of supporter yelling ‘white power’ WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Sunday shared a video of a stand-off between anti-Trump protesters and his supporters in which a man chants “white power” -- before deleting it amid an outcry. “Thank you to the ..