Presidential election: the French of Montreal make their voices heard

The gray weather and the long queue around the Palais des Congrès did not deter the French in Montreal from coming to cast their ballot on Saturday for the first round of the French presidential election.

• Read also: Macron in the lead, tight gap with Le Pen in the second round

People had even been present since 7 a.m., two hours before the opening of the vote, to be sure not to relive the nightmare of the last presidential election (2017).

“We waited four hours five years ago, so we say to ourselves that we are still on time,” testified smiling Maëlle Amsellem, who had already been waiting for more than an hour.

While some are happy to see the enthusiasm of compatriots for this election, others fear that the wait will play on their lack of motivation.

“I have friends who don’t come to vote because it takes too long. It could discourage some, that’s for sure, ”mentioned Jérôme Cucurou, who came for the first time to vote in the metropolis.

The French consulate in Montreal has taken all the measures to avoid too long a wait, by choosing a place with a large reception capacity and by adding more than ten polling stations.

But the French present were armed with patience to assert their right to vote, especially since their interest in the electoral campaign has not diminished abroad.

The gap in the most recent polls had also narrowed between the outgoing president, Emmanuel Macron, and the candidate of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, suggesting a scenario that could be similar to that of 2017, with the two candidates in the second round.

The candidate of the radical left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, had begun to progress in the voting intentions, placing himself in front of the very controversial candidate of the far right, Éric Zemmour.

Remember that the French also have the choice between Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains) and Anne Hidalgo (Socialist Party), candidates from the parties that were the most established a few years ago, but whose interest has tarnished lately. In all, 12 candidates are in the running to access the highest position of power.

“It’s a bit of a last chance election. One of the major themes is still the environment, and with the latest IPCC report which gives us three years, it’s a bit now or never, ”said Julia Fortin Moreau, a young woman of 27 years.

“There are quite a few people who didn’t vote five years ago and are here today. It kind of woke everyone up to everything that happened with COVID, and right now Ukraine,” said Amsellem, who has lived in Montreal for ten years.

And the lack of electoral campaign carried out by the candidates in France, compared to the activity of other years, did not make the choice easy for the voters.

“Even now, I may be 1:30 a.m. away from being able to vote, I’m still deciding, because this year there hasn’t been a big official debate,” said Maëlle Amsellem.

The French present were all the same all in agreement on one point: they had to do their duty as citizens for the country which saw them grow.

“It’s a political and social event, the atmosphere is good and people are happy to be there,” summarized Loïc Huyghues, a few minutes from casting his ballot.

The French presidential election in brief

  • The President of the French Republic is elected for a five-year term (quinquennium).
  • Candidates who wish to run must first collect 500 sponsorships from elected officials.
  • The president is elected by direct universal suffrage, that is to say by an absolute majority of the votes cast by the voters.
  • If this majority is not obtained in the first ballot, a second ballot must be held 14 days later.
  • The vote takes place on Sunday in metropolitan France, but it is held the day before in polling stations located abroad.

The polling stations of the French Consulate in Montreal in figures

  • 67,132 French people registered with the Montreal consulate in 2022;
  • 39 polling stations (compared to 24 stations in 2017);
  • 4000 proxies sent for the 1is round of election;
  • More than 90% of the registrants at this consulate live in Montreal;
  • 40% participation rate on 1is round of 2017.

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