“You don’t have the right to vote but wish to express your opinion? You do have the right to vote but you wish to give it another sense?”
This is how visitors are hosted on Alter-Votants’s website, an association which enables French citizens to give their vote to foreigners living in France, who aren’t allowed to cast a ballot. Voicing Realities explains how it works, only a week before one of the most indecisive political events in France’s recent history.
⇒ Why is this election so particular?
The first round of the 2017 French presidential election will take place next Sunday, April 23rd; this election relies on many unusual factors:
1/ Historical figures were kicked out from the election before it begins: former President Nicolas Sarkozy was eliminated in the right-wing primary in the first round; the primary’s favorite Alain Juppé lost in the second round against all odds; current President François Hollande decided not to stand in the 2017 election, due to his unequaled unpopularity.
2/ But lower-ranking, unexpected candidates are racing: socialist Benoît Hamon surprisingly won the left-wing primary against former Prime Minister Manuel Valls; one of the election favorites, Emmanuel Macron, was unknown to the general public less than three years ago.
3/ Political scandals made the campaign like no other: right-wing candidate François Fillon hired his wife as a parliamentary attachée for several years, but it appeared to be a fictional job; far-right candidate Marine Le Pen hired assistants at the European Parliament, but who were in fact working for the party back in France.
Due to all these factors, only a week before the first round, 1 elector out of 3 doesn’t know which candidate will receive their vote; many are planning of simply abstaining themselves.
1 elector out of 3 doesn’t know which candidate will receive their vote
Based on this observation, association Alter-Votants – literally “Other Voters” – decides to offer French citizens the possibility to give their vote to foreigners living in France, and who are not allowed to vote.
⇒ What is Alter-Votants’s initiatitive all about?
According to Alter-Votants’s website, 3.6 million foreign people, who were born abroad, are currently living in France; 70% of them have been established in the country for over ten years. They pay their taxes in France, create economic growth and participate to the society’s dynamism, but are not allowed to vote – except in municipal and European elections, if they are European Union citizens only.
44 million people – out of 67 million – are expected to vote next Sunday: in every election, the abstention rate is important (13% in the last presidential election) and as mentioned earlier, one elector out of three doesn’t know who they’ll be voting for this year.
Source: © Ksiamon, via Wikicommons.
How does Alter-Votants’ initiative work?
– If you wish to give your vote: you must be a French citizen, who is of age (and thus allowed to vote). Alter-Votants will contact you, exchange a bit about your process, and offer you to meet up with your potential duo, if the person gave their agreement in the first place. Then, it is up to you and your partner to establish an agreement. For instance, several people may fix conditions on who they don’t want to vote for – far-right candidates for instance –: even though the vote is given to another person, the giver remains the one who is going to drop their vote in the ballot box.
– If you are a foreign-born citizen, living in France without French nationality: you must get in touch with Alter-Votants, who will let you know whenever they find a match for you; then it is up to you about whether you wish to meet up or not, and then reach an agreement with your duo.
This initiative was created last December: up to this day, 300 people contacted Alter-Votants. According to several media, 40 duos were built up ten days before the election.
Alter-Votants will renew this action for the Parliament elections in June, and maybe beyond that date.
Does this initiative exist in other countries? Let us know in comments how it goes and how you feel about this system.
Featured image: Pixabay.