France elections 2017: French expatriates in US, Canada vote ahead of tight presidential polls

Namrata Tripathi
France elections

Expatriates residing in overseas territories in the Western Hemisphere cast their votes on Saturday, April 22, a day before France was set to vote for one of its closest presidential elections in modern times. 

Thousands of French nationals living overseas in countries like the United States, Canada and elsewhere in South America are eligible to vote in the French elections, which is deemed as one of the most unpredictable polls in decades. Europe is watching the polls in France very closely to see if the right-wing nationalism which claimed Britain and the United States last year will suceed in sweeping its third largest economy or not.

Voting also began on Saturday in many of France's overseas territitories including the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbeans. French voters in the United States' capital Washington marched out of their homes in the rain to cast their votes for the first round of the elections at a polling stating at the French embassy. A total of 69 polling booths were opened for French expats across the US.

Adrien Gontier, a french expat, said while casting his vote at the embassy that he has come out to vote because he does not want a Donald Trump in France, referring to the recent unprecedented win of Republican candidate Trump in the 2016 US elections. 

"In the United States, you can see what happens when people don't vote, or vote badly," he said. "We don't want there to be a Trump in France," AFP reported.

Many in the French polls are voting to avert France from falling for the anti-immigrant and nationalistic agenda of some of the presidential candidates like the Far-Right leader of the National Front party Marine Le Pen. Britain's decision to exit the European Union and and Trump's win in the US elections in November has prompted a concern amongst ciritic that Le Pen could be the winner in the French elections.

Another French voter in Washington, Marianne Hart, said she believes absentee voting will influence the elections' outcome.

"Everyone who lives abroad or has experienced it has a more open-minded view of the world," she said. Trump, after assuming his presidency, had signed an executive order barring people from at least seven Muslim-majority countries to enter the United States, citing security concers. The order had caused a worldwide outrage, leading to protests across the globe against Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric.

There are a total of 119,773 French voters who are registered in the United States, including 11,242 voters in Washington.

According to the French embassy, the number of voters in this elections is 30 percent more than that registered in the first round of the last presidential elections in 2012. 

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