Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • Europe launches navigation satellites to rival GPS

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Iraqi Sunnis quit govt talks after mosque massacre

    Read more

  • US demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • Fed Chair says US job market still hampered by Great Recession

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

France

French opposition anger at lacklustre voter registration campaign

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2011-12-29

As the deadline to register for next year’s elections looms, French opposition politicians have accused the government of deliberately refraining from encouraging new voters to register.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party was accused this week of deliberately failing to encourage voter registration ahead of next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

New voters – those who have recently turned 18 and those who have moved to a new district since the last elections – have to register at their local town halls by the end of December if they are to take part in next year’s polls.

Traditionally, televised advertising campaigns are aired the year before a major election to get as many people to sign up as possible.

But the effort has been muted this year, with low-key campaigns in individual town halls and some Internet advertising, but no public message on television calling on voters to make sure they are on the voting lists.

Opposition politicians have said that voter apathy, especially in poorer districts and among the young who have a greater tendency to vote for left-wing parties, can only play into the hands of Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP.

‘The government was found wanting’

On Tuesday François Bayrou of the centrist MoDem said that “it is the first time in my memory, and on the eve of such an important year in French politics, that the government has failed to call on potential voters to register.”

“It’s all the more shocking when you see that in some districts where an effort has been made to encourage registration there have been good results,” said the MoDem’s candidate for the presidency.

“The government has been found wanting. They have tens of millions of euros available for such a campaign and they have failed to remind citizens to participate in this important decision-making process,” he said.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a spokeswoman for Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande, estimated that 9% of the country’s eligible voters had not registered, including 29% of 18 year-olds and 13% of 18-22 year-olds.

“These are going to be decisive elections. Has the government totally lost interest in young people?” she asked. “Or is it afraid that the youth will punish them at the ballot box? These are legitimate questions.”

‘A scandal’

In the past, decisive election results have had the effect of boosting the number of new registrations.

After former far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen caused a shock by reaching the second round of the 2002 presidential election, the number of new voters registering for the 2007 poll jumped 40%, to 1.4 million.

Not so this year. And for Manual Valls, François Hollande’s head of communications, the fact that there has not been a big rush to register before the end of the year is “a scandal” attributable to the government’s “failure” to publicise civic duty and voter participation.

Official encouragement to register has been limited to posters put up in town halls and cultural centres run by the Citizenship and Democracy Association (CIDEM), an organisation affiliated to the Interior Ministry for the past decade.

Interior Minister Claude Guéant’s office said in a statement that the government had provided the CIDEM with €181,000 to spend on this year’s campaign, six times more than for the previous election.

But funds did not extend to a television campaign, and according to Les Echos newspaper on Wednesday, Guéant’s office said that they “did not want to fund a campaign simply to get people to register, but to get people to vote.”

Date created : 2011-12-28

  • FRANCE

    Politicians take up ‘Made in France’ mantra as elections loom

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    The National Front and the quest for the Jewish vote

    Read more

COMMENT(S)