A voter slides her French presidential ballot into the polls in Washington on April 9, 2022 (AFP / Stefani Reynolds)
“It connects us to France”: From New York, Los Angeles, Montreal or Washington, the French in North America started voting in the first round of the presidential election on Saturday, a day ahead of France.
– “Guignol” –
Even if she has lived in the United States for over 25 years, Nathalie Depastas would have missed this election appointment for nothing in the world. “I wonder which puppet I will have at the head of the country,” laughs this specialist in oriental medicine, based in the US state of Virginia. Her choice this Saturday was “clear”, assures the woman in glasses, who is keen to choose someone who “has the interests of France at heart”.
At the French embassy in Washington, where she votes, the ballot papers on the names of the 12 candidates have been carefully drawn up.
Voters walk past posters of French presidential candidates in Washington on April 9, 2022 (AFP / Stefani Reynolds)
After a relatively short wait, voters are forwarded to four different polling stations. A short passage in the blue-white-red voting booth and the traditional “voted!” reverberates, proclaimed by embassy personnel.
Many voters take a moment to photograph the tricolor flag fluttering on this sunny morning. The pride of being able to participate in this major civic exercise, despite the thousands of miles separating the United States from metropolitan France, is palpable. Even if the choice of candidates does not always arouse much enthusiasm.
A person puts his ballot into the ballot box for the French presidential election in Washington, April 9, 2022 (AFP / Stefani Reynolds)
Frédéric Barassé, chef in Washington, expatriate for 12 years, admits he followed “his family’s beliefs” in France rather than his own by slipping his ballot paper into the ballot box.
Another Frenchman, who came with his children, claims to have made his decision “when” he voted.
– Queue in Montreal –
The ballots of the twelve French presidential candidates, in Montreal, April 9, 2021 (AFP / Andrej Ivanov)
In Montreal, where thousands of people gathered at 8 a.m., as soon as polling stations opened, Esther Sei, 26, said “take the time to read all programs, watch programs and especially HugoDeciphers’ to decide”. More than 67,000 French are registered in the French-speaking metropolis, 10,000 more than in the last presidential election.
“It’s important to vote as an expat too, we can’t miss that. And then it connects us with France,” assures Francois-Xavier Ledieu, 40, an aeronautical engineer, behind a cloth mask.
The voting operation will take place at the Palais des Congrès in the city to save voters a wait of several hours, as it was 5 years ago.
Queue in Montreal to vote in French presidential election, April 9, 2022 (AFP/Andrej Ivanov)
But from the opening, the ground floor of this building was packed, the sixty volunteers recruited by the consulate busy organizing the queues. Some voters wait outside the huge building that has long served as a vaccination center.
At noon local time, you had to wait about 2:30 a.m. to vote, according to an estimate from the French consulate in Montreal.
“I asked myself to come because 5 years ago I had waited several hours before I could vote,” said Sarah Guerrier, who has lived in Montreal for 11 years.
But, confides this elegant woman dressed in a black coat, “I have two children, who may go to study in France, so I think it is important for them to decide who will lead France in the coming years. Who will come”.