Sarkozy denies French expats electronic vote in conservative primary
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Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of the conservative Les Républicains party, ordered Tuesday that French citizens living abroad could not vote electronically for the 2017 presidential primary.
In a meeting that was not attended by the other presidential hopefuls, Sarkozy ordered that French expatriates could only vote by a paper ballot, just like citizens in mainland France.
While expats may still be able to vote at consulates and embassies in their countries of residence, the independent authority in charge of the vote has warned that organising this in such a short time frame may not be possible.
“How can it be that someone living in the [rural] Somme region should have to drive 40 kilometres to cast his vote, yet a golden boy in New York just has to press a button?” Sarkozy told French daily L’Opinion.
The authority in charge of regulating the primary said on Wednesday it was contesting the decision, warning of “the difficulties inherent in organising” overseas voting for the two-round election being held on November 22 and 29 – both Sundays.
“The provision of diplomatic and consular posts for the establishment of polling stations does not seem possible,” it said in a statement.
‘Incomprehensible and unacceptable’
Polls show that Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé is the favourite among French voters to win the 2017 election, and is Sarkozy’s closest rival to take the right-wing nomination.
Sarkozy will also be battling other heavyweights like former prime minister François Fillon and former agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire, among others.
Sarkozy’s bid to deny the estimated 1.2 million registered French citizens living abroad (seen as largely pro-Juppé) their chance to vote was met with consternation by the other candidates.
Many called for the independent governing authority to block Sarkozy’s decision.
“It is as incomprehensible as it is unacceptable,” Juppé’s campaign spokesman told AFP.
Bruno Le Maire declared that “the only way French citizens abroad can vote is electronically” and called on the governing authority to annul Sarkozy’s decision.
François Fillon added: “No modification of the rules can be allowed without the consultation of the governing authority, and I will defend to the last the right of all French citizens to participate in this democratic exercise.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)