French Presidential Elections This Weekend


République Française

On Sat­ur­day, I have to go vote for the first round of the Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tions at the French Embassy in Ottawa. France will only vote on Sun­day, but as “French abroad” we have to cast our bal­lot a day earlier.

A huge envelop filled with a thick stack of two-page long manifestos—one for each candidate—finally arrived by mail yes­ter­day. It’s a bit late for that, isn’t it? I mean, doesn’t every­body know the can­di­dates by now?

One thing that really annoyed me, on the other hand, is that since I reg­is­tered at the French Con­sulate in Toronto, I keep on get­ting spammed by all the can­di­dates. My name must have ended up on some “this chick prob­a­bly digs the far-right” list (a huge mistake—ask any cop who tear-gassed me dur­ing the many left-wing protests I attended as a teen) because Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen were very pro­duc­tive, send­ing me email after email. Trust me, there is noth­ing worse than check­ing Yahoo first thing in the morn­ing and real­iz­ing that the only per­son writ­ing to you is that dude sell­ing Via­gra and Sarkozy (could it be the same person?).

As a French cit­i­zen, I think it’s my duty to vote for a new pres­i­dent. Also, I’m a nice per­son: I don’t think French should suf­fer five more years of Sarkozy.

The man­i­festos I received are the same ones French in France got: they high­light the can­di­dates’ credo, explain the party’s beliefs, etc. The emails, how­ever, were specif­i­cally crafted for the “French cit­i­zens abroad” audi­ence. I read a few and I really didn’t rec­og­nize myself in them. They left me cold.

The main issue is that I don’t con­sider myself a French expat. I’m not tem­porar­ily resid­ing abroad—I’m an immi­grant. When I’m in Canada, I’m Cana­dian. When I’m in France, I’m French. Well, that’s the the­ory, bar­ring my usual blun­ders and million-dollar ques­tions regard­ing cul­tural dif­fer­ences. But one thing I’m not is an expat. To me, this word con­jures images of French col­o­niz­ers, of narrow-minded “us civ­i­lized peo­ple vs. them sav­ages” communities.

But of course, for French politi­cians, it’s eas­ier to talk to “expats” than to cit­i­zens of the world. They play nice and promise to defend their rights and free­dom abroad. Gee, thanks. But really, none of the numer­ous elec­toral promises will affect me or will change any­thing for me.

Indeed, French immi­grants’ sta­tus is a bit of a grey area. We retain French cit­i­zen­ship: for instance, I have a French and a Cana­dian pass­port. But unlike expats who typ­i­cally study or work abroad tem­porar­ily, immi­grants are long-term res­i­dents and usu­ally have fewer ties with France than expats. For instance, few of us work for French com­pa­nies abroad, or study in the net­work of French schools/universities.

Since we no longer have these ties with France, we don’t pay taxes in France, nor can we use the same ben­e­fits French res­i­dents enjoy, such as access to the health care sys­tem. And it makes sense. But it also makes us more or less immune to elec­tion promises.

The media like to say that French cit­i­zens abroad vote mas­sively right-wing. I will resist. At least one vote on this side of the Atlantic Ocean will go to the far-left. “One small vil­lage of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the Sarkozy propaganda…”

The Man­i­festos


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Those emails are SO annoy­ing! And you get so many of them every day. I man­aged to arrange it so I could vote online, which is nice.
    Tell me who to vote for!

  2. D would never miss a vote.
    We might have the same name as the Green can­di­date, she is not our rel­a­tive. Coin­ci­dence :).
    D came home with the all the vote papers of those he didn’t vote for to show me– LOL!!
    A voté…

  3. Pingback: Racism in Canada | Correr Es Mi Destino

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