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Friday, October 21, 2011

Touche pas à mon vote

Another sign that we are well into an election cycle.

The Droit populaire is launching a campaign against allowing foreigners to vote in French elections at the local level.

This is a direct attack against the Socialist party that has placed allowing non-EU foreigners (us "Third-country nationals") to vote in local elections on their platform for 2012.  Mr. Mariani, the Transport Minister, rightly points out that this idea is not new:

"C'est un vieux fantasme du PS puisque chacun se souvient que c'était l'une des 110 propositions de François Mitterrand en 1981."
This is an old fantasy of the Socialist Party as everyone remembers that this was one of the 110 propositions of Francois Mitterand in 1981.

As one of the foreigners potentially impacted by this I must admit that I am a bit unsure how to react.  While I personally think that there is great merit in the idea of allowing long-term foreign residents to vote in local (municipal) elections, I can also understand those who would say that this is a right that should be reserved for citizens.  Is it really so unreasonable to ask long-term residents (like me, for example) to go through the process of naturalization before being allowed to exercise one of the most fundamental (and  most important) rights of a citizen?

While I understand where both sides here are coming from, I do take exception to Mr. Mariani's implying that, if given the vote, we foreigners would flock to the banner of the Socialist Party.

"Foreigner" is not a category that correlates directly with one particular ideology or party.  If allowed to vote in 2012, I very much doubt that I would vote for Mr. Hollande or any of his pals since my personal political views make me much more at home in the Center-right.

This campaign is a splendid example of how immigrants are being cynically used by politicians to deflect attention from other issues like, say, jobs, the state of the national economy, the Euro-zone crisis, the bail-out of Dexia.   Such is politics, I suppose, but I am still disappointed to see the French presidential election moving in this direction.

It is (dare I say it?)  exactly the sort of tactic my friends on the American Right back home would approve of wholeheartedly.

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