Extension modules should never call setlocale(), except to find out what the current locale is. But since the return value can only be used portably to restore it, that is not very useful (except perhaps to find out whether or not the locale is "C").
When Python code uses the locale module to change the locale, this also affects the embedding application. If the embedding application doesn't want this to happen, it should remove the _locale extension module (which does all the work) from the table of built-in modules in the config.c file, and make sure that the _locale module is not accessible as a shared library.
See About this document... for information on suggesting changes.