Sunday, 23 April 2017

Voting in France - the first time

What an auspicious day! Got up, showered and accompanied JC to the local mairie. Today was the first round of voting in the French elections and of special significance to me. Today was the first time I had had the right to vote in France as a freshly minted citizen. Today I would be voting for the President of France. Further down the track would be voting for the representatives in the senate.
The system is quite different to that of New Zealand. You receive your voting card in the mail. This is later followed by all the candidate bumpf and the voting slips. Yes, you receive a piece of paper with the name of each presidential candidate. Individual pieces of paper are sent, not a list where you tick the candidate of your choice. JC ended up with two packs. Thank goodness he checked both as his preferred candidate did not have a voting slip in one of them. That's a bit dodgy. Fortunately the second pack did contain one.
When I got to the local mairie on election day, today, there was no queue at all. All was calm, quiet. I shook hands with the officials administering the voting and gave les bises (kisses) to the woman in charge of the electoral roll because I know her. She's the wife of one of JC's hunting buddies and an organiser of the Chartres Business Women's Network.

My electoral card was stamped to show I had participated. Along a side table were stacks of candidate slips, in case you hadn't brought your own (I had). JC explained you could just take one from the pile of your preferred candidate but everyone would then know who you were voting for, or you could do as some voters did and take one from each pile before heading into the screened booth.

In I went, took out my preferred candidates name slip, popped it in the envelope provided, slid it into the voting box on the main desk, signed the electoral roll with my current name (even though I am obliged to vote in my maiden name - no it doesn't make sense but that's the French way), received back my voting card for the future voting rounds and off we headed into the chilly sunshine.

In two weeks time I will have to vote again, this time between the two most successful candidates. Who will they be? We won't really know for sure until tomorrow night but it's a very important election this time. Will France stay in the EU? Will it decide to continue the socialist policies of Holland? Would it prefer a communist at the head? I really can't understand why anyone would want to live in a communist country but many French traditionally have these leanings. There are candidates with the charisma of a gnat, candidates who look like they should just put their slippers on and play with the grandkids, candidates who have little experience but powerful and rich friends, candidates who are now famous for immoral behaviour which has been encouraged by corrupt French systems, candidates who want to lock France into it's already very stagnant past.

The choice is scary. Voters tend not to educate themselves on the issues ( as is the case in many democracies) and just listen to the left-wing media. The campaign this time has been turgid and dirty. Rather a baptism of fire for me. I did watch the slots allotted to each candidate on TV but didn't watch most of the debates as they were too difficult for me to understand, language-wise. I did look over the candidates' publicity. The countdown has started. Whatever the outcome, it could change France and Europe. No, I'm not telling you who I voted for today.


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