Voting in EU elections

Earlier this month I received my carte électorale, which shows that as a citizen of another EU country I am entitled to vote in France in elections for the EU parliament and in local council elections.

These will almost certainly be the last European elections in which we will vote. I suspect this means that in the future I will also not be able to vote in the local elections in France.

I will be well and truly disenfranchised as, having lived over 15 years out of the UK, I don’t have a vote in UK Parliamentary elections.  I would also not have a vote if there was a second referendum, even though this affects me so directly.

The EU elections in France take place on Sunday 26th May – by which time I will be in Portugal. So last week I set about organising a proxy vote – Margaret will vote for me.

It turned out to be very complicated. I went online, found the formidable form I have to complete- but the instructions said I should download the (pdf) file and fill it in on the computer – handwritten entries were not accepted. It was only later that I spotted a note at the foot of the page saying alternatively one could write on a printed form available form the counter (didn’t say what counter…). I tried typing on the Mac and the text insisted on appearing vertically on the form, so the I had to download it onto my iPad. Having at last printed the completed form I took it, as instructed, to the gendarmerie.

It didn’t surprise me that the gendarmerie bell wasn’t working. I tried knocking on the window without success. So then I walked up to another window which I knew was in the back room where the gendarmes sit.

When finally I came face to face with a gendarme the first thing he did was to reprimand me for daring to tap on this window! Then he scrutinised the form, searching for a problem. And he found one. There were three boxes: proxy for the first round, for the second round, or all rounds. I had ticked all rounds. Aha, said the gendarme, that is wrong: there is only one round in European elections, so you should have ticked first round. I murmured that all rounds included first round – but no: I must redo the whole form – all three pages of it.

He then produced a properly printed copy of the form I had painstaking downloaded from the internet and stood over me as I filled it in. As I entered today’s date, I muttered the figures in English as I usually do. Magic: the gendarme said “Two thousand” to show he knew some English – and actually smiled.

Now I have to think who I will vote for. The nightmare facing us sounds horribly familiar: the threat of the populist right.

The polls show that party dominated for so long by the Le Pen family – the RN (Rassemblement National – though everyone still calls it by its old name, FN Front National) has taken the lead over Macron’s party, the LREM (La République en March – which is in coalition with Modem, another, soggier, centralist party. Well below these two front runners come the Conservative party, the LR (Les Républicains, formerly the UMP), and then in ever descending order: the LFI (La France Insoumise – an equivalent to Momentum), the Greens (EELV – Europe Écologie Les Verts ) and the Socialist party (PS – Parti Socialiste).

As in all European countries, interest in the European elections is low and people are likely to vote based on national rather than European issues. So what should I vote? I have been havering between the EELV and the LREM. I don’t trust the LFI and the poor old PS is in a mess. The most important thing is to stop as many Front National candidates as possible from getting elected. On that basis I am, with some reluctance, currently inclined to vote for the LREM.

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