Socialists leading in French expat vote tally
Socialist candidates are leading in seven out of 11 constituencies of French citizens living abroad, according to early results, in the first time France is to allow deputies for its expat populations have seats in parliament.
According to numbers published by the French Ministry of the Interior, a majority of French citizens residing overseas (53%) voted for right-wing candidate former President Nicolas Sarkozy in France’s presidential election just one month ago.
But French citizens living abroad looked to be changing it up in the first round of parliamentary elections on June 2 and 3, with Socialist-backed candidates leading in seven out of 11 designated constituencies.
Although France’s overseas territories have long been represented in Parliament, this is the first time France is allowing deputies for its expat population to have seats. The initiative was undertaken by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government passed a law in 2008 creating new electoral constituencies for French citizens living abroad.
As of Monday, Socialist-backed candidates were leading in the US/Canada constituency, as well as Central/Southern America, and the “Northern Europe” (UK/Ireland/Scandinavia) constituency. Candidates backed by the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement party (UMP) were ahead among French expats in Africa/Middle East, Spain/Portugal, and Russia/Asia.
Turnout rates were low, barely reaching 20% in some constituencies, despite the possibility of voting online. The second round of voting, to be held June 17, will see Socialist and Green Party-backed candidates facing off against centre-right UMP candidates in all 11 constituencies.
In the US/Canada constituency, Socialist Corinne Narassiguin is ahead of centre-right candidate – and former Sarkozy confidant – Frederic Lefebvre, 40% to 22%. The Socialist candidate, Axelle Lemaire, was also leading the UMP contender, Emmanuelle Savarit, in the “Northern Europe” (UK/Ireland/Scandinavia) constituency.
With left-wing parties favoured to win back a majority of seats in the National Assembly, French expats, once considered a reliably right-leaning voting bloc, seem to be voting more and more like their friends and family back in France.
“The gap between French people living in France and those living abroad keeps getting smaller,” explained Frederic Michaud of the French polling agency IFOP. “Expatriates today have more contact with France than in the past, and modern methods of communication allow them to feel less removed from their home country.”
French citizens residing in France will head to the polls for the first-round parliamentary vote on June 10.