The young politicians: Meeting the youths running in France’s local elections

From left to right: Claire Lejeune, 25, Hugo Dumont, 18, and Anthony Machado, 23.
From left to right: Claire Lejeune, 25, Hugo Dumont, 18, and Anthony Machado, 23. © France 24
4 min

As France prepares to vote in local elections this weekend, FRANCE 24 met some of the young people, aged between 18 and 25, who are hoping to make a change in their towns by running for office.

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The first round of France’s country-wide municipal elections takes place on March 15. But according to a recent poll, 65 percent of young people either have little interest or none at all in the vote. Furthermore, only three out of ten young people plan to cast their ballot, according to the poll of 1,195 people aged 18 to 25 carried out by Ifop for Anacej.

But some young people are going against the grain and taking an active role in local politics, standing for election to town councils despite their tender age.

Hugo Dumont is just 18 years old, but he is running for office in his local town of Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche. For him, it is just the latest step in a long engagement with local politics.

Hugo Dumont, 18, is running for town council in Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche in France's local elections.
Hugo Dumont, 18, is running for town council in Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche in France's local elections. © France 24

 

“First of all, I was on the local youth council, when I was 7 to 8 years old,” he says. “Then, when I was 14, I asked the mayor if I could join the environmental advisory committee.

“And then in 2019, the mayor asked me to be on his electoral list for the local elections and so I said 'yes' so that I could continue to serve my community.”

Anthony Machado, 23, is running for town council in the Parisian suburb of Lagny-sur-Marne. He believes youth involvement in local politics is essential so that “we can better represent the young”, even though he admits there are sometimes drawbacks to being a young person in politics.

“Either people say: 'He's ambitious. He's starting young to climb higher up the ladder.’ Or we’re not taken seriously,” he says.

However, he hopes having young candidates running for the local council will show people that “this idea of young people as a bit impulsive is not 100 percent true.”

 

Anthony Machado, 23, is running for town council in France's local elections.
Anthony Machado, 23, is running for town council in France's local elections. © France 24

 

For Claire Lejeune, 25, a candidate in her hometown of Morsang-sur-Orge, “It really makes sense to get involved in the place where you've lived, to be in a way part of its history.”

The environment and climate change rank among the most important issues for many young people. The Ifop poll found that among those young people planning to cast their ballot in the upcoming elections, 62 percent said that candidates’ stances on these issues will be decisive in how they vote.

 

Claire Lejeune, 25, is running for town council in Morsang-sur-Orge in France's local elections.
Claire Lejeune, 25, is running for town council in Morsang-sur-Orge in France's local elections. © France 24

 

“You become an adult in a world in crisis, in a world in which we talk about the end of the world,“ says Lejeune.

“We’re kind of obliged to be politically engaged… For me, it’s totally consistent and in keeping with climate protests, climate strikes and all the actions of civil disobedience that we see today.”

 

 

 

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