A monster crowd at the Palais des Congrès for the first round of the French presidential election

Thousands of French people who live in Montreal are voting this Saturday at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal in the first round of the French presidential election, where a tight fight is emerging between outgoing President Emmanuel Macron and his main rival, the candidate of extreme right Marine Le Pen.

Elderly people, students and parents accompanied by small children congested the orange line of the metro – eerily reminiscent of the pre-pandemic rush hour – before exiting in large numbers at Place-d’Armes station to converge at the Palais des Congrès , or The duty went in the morning to take stock of this first round of voting in the French presidential election. This takes place the day before the day of the first round of voting in France, Sunday, time difference requires.

At the time of the passage of To have to, two huge queues of voters circled the Palais des Congrès, requisitioned from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday for the occasion. A line was reserved this year for parents accompanied by young children they carried in their arms or inside a stroller. The Consulate General of France thus wanted to correct one of the many criticisms raised by French nationals in Montreal during the 2017 elections. They were then called to vote from Stanislas College in Outremont, where the long waiting time to vote had exasperated many.

“It was the apocalypse,” recalled Franck Gansmaldel, who has lived in Quebec for 25 years. He and his wife had then had to wait “so long that we were at the closing of the polling station”, he told the To have towhile waiting to take part in this new democratic exercise, five years later. As for the operation set up this year, the Frenchman is not convinced. “It would have been easier to have schedules by name because there, everyone arrives pell-mell. It’s a traffic jam,” he said.

“Took me half an hour to find the start of the line so it’s not as well signposted as in the courtyard [du Collège] Stanislas, we can say that, ”lamented Albéric Aurteneche, while he was queuing under a gray sky. “The problem that there is is a lack of organization due to the consulate for lack of means”, subsequently launched Stéphane Durupt, who for his part deplored a lack of “manpower” to coordinate a large-scale voting exercise in one building.

Accompanied by his wife and a young child, Jackson Brook for his part welcomed the initiative put in place to offer families with children a faster way to vote. “This year it’s easier with my family, so I think it’s less chaotic,” he said, smiling.

A long wait

By turning to the Palais des Congrès, a huge building in the heart of downtown, the Consulate General of France in Montreal hoped to facilitate the voting process for French voters registered on the Montreal consular electoral list, whose number rises this year to 67,132 people. This makes the metropolis one of the most important centers of French people abroad. It is therefore thousands of people per hour who should vote on Saturday.

“We have very high traffic, which is a very good sign for democratic vitality. Elections are always a very important moment for the French community”, rejoiced at the To have to the consul general of France in Montreal, Sophie Lagoutte, who reported a “fairly fluid” route for the voters gathered at the Palais des Congrès, where 39 polling stations were set up on Saturday on the 5th floor of the building.

The waiting time for voters, initially estimated at 1 hour by the consulate around 10 a.m., has however continued to climb since then, rising to 1:45 a.m., then to 2:30 a.m. around noon. Patience was therefore in order for French voters in Montreal, whose number increased by 10,000 people registered on the electoral list this year, compared to 2017.

“I understand that it is a bit long, agreed Ms. Lagoutte. We are doing our best to facilitate checks, to speed them up, but we only have a few hours during which thousands of French people come to vote. »

The threat of the “extreme right”

For many voters, their participation in this election is particularly important at a time when voting intentions are tightening between French President Emmanuel Macron, in power since 2017, and his main rival, Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate.

“These elections, they have a particular meaning with the fight against climate change and in the context of the rise of the far right”, notably mentioned Gaétan Noël, who has lived in Quebec for 10 years.

The second round of voting will take place in two weeks, on Saturday April 23, again at the Palais des Congrès.

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