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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A French Expat and His Excellent Election Experience

From the excellent blog, Les Chroniques Berliniquaises, a few words about his election experience as a French expatriate living in Berlin.  Americans abroad, pay attention!  Some of what he says, you will find hauntingly familiar.  One part may even have you weeping in despair.  Oh, what I would give to have our presidential candidates favor us with as much attention....

What follows is my translation of one paragraph but I encourage you to go over and read the original post in its entirety.  This blogger's French is wonderful (and very drole) so be aware that I am not doing it justice here in the language of Shakespeare.

"Difficile, pour nous autres membres de la communauté habituellement désignée sous le plaisant vocable de traîtres à la patrie suppôts de l’anti-France déserteurs exilés fiscaux «principaux vecteurs du rayonnement de la France à l’étranger», d’ignorer l’échéance électorale de ce dimanche 22 avril, tant nos adresses e-mail, que nous avions été obligés de communiquer aux services consulaires lors de notre inscription, ont été bombardées de courriels, de harangues, de promesses, d’exhortations, de sollicitations, de clins d’œil et d’appel du pied ces dernières semaines. Sur les dix candidats, sept ont goûté avec un gai abandon aux joies de la cyber-drague, y compris le candidat qui veut taxer à 100% «nos millions» de richissimes expatriés nous la coulons douce sous des cieux cléments, loin des griffes crochues du fisc. Y compris le tenant d’une France «qu’on aime ou qu’on quitte», et qui a bouté hors de France, avec une remarquable diligence, des milliers de diplômés étrangers très qualifiés à qui l’on reprochait de manger le pain des Français. Y compris la pasionaria de la desouchitude, qui dans la même phrase, promettait de supprimer d’un trait de plume le droit du sol et de bouffer du binational, tout en rappelant à ses lecteurs effarés, sur un ton maternel et rassurant, que«les Français expatriés seront bien entendu libres d’accepter la nationalité de leur pays d’accueil s’ils l’estiment nécessaire». Ouf, pendant un instant on a failli croire que la politicienne droite dans ses bottes allait faire preuve de cohérence sur ses principes, mais en fait non. Après tout, une voix est une voix."

Difficult, for us the other members of the community usually referred to under the pleasant terms traitors to the country anti-France henchmen deserters tax evaders  "principal vectors of the radiance of France abroad" to be oblivious to the election deadline this Sunday, 22nd of April, given that our e-mail addresses , which we were obliged to provide to the consulate when we registered to vote, were bombarded with mail, lectures, promises, pleas, requests, winks and appeals these past few weeks.  Of the 10 candidates, seven launched themselves with wild abandon into the joys of cyber-dating, including the candidate who wants to tax at 100% "our millions" in expatriate riches earned under pleasant skies, far from the claws of the French taxman.  Including those who believe in a "love it or leave it" France that has driven out, with remarkable diligence, millions of highly-skilled foreign graduates accused of stealing the daily bread of the average Frenchman.   And including the "mistress of the sons of the soil"  who manages in one sentence to propose with the wave of a pen the elimination of  jus soli and dual citizenship while assuring her frightened readers, in a maternal and reassuring tone, that "French expatriates are, of course, free to accept the citizenship of their host countries if they deem it necessary,"   Huh.   For a moment there I almost thought that this right-wing politician was going to prove the consistency of her principles, but finally no.  After all, a vote is a vote.


Berliniquais said...

Hello Victoria, yes voting in Berlin, as it was for most places outside of France, was an experience to remember... at least I did not have to drive for 2 or 3 hours as many of my countrymen did, so I'm quite lucky actually.

Is it really a familiar story for Americans voting abroad? It's my 1st time voting away from the fatherland and I heard that all those emails we got are a novelty this year, actually.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi JM,

The part that was familiar was the tendency of home country politicians to refer to us as tax evading traitors living the good life. :-)

The part that made me despair (and quite envious actually) was that French politicians actually bothered to chase your vote from abroad. I've never had that happen in 20 years abroad. To make matters worse on the website of my state senator I have to give a location before sending her an email but the only options are US and military. There is no option for a non-military US person living abroad even though I am one of her constituents. Our vote just doesn't seem to count for our politicians and they have zero interest in us .

On the other hand a bill was passed a few years ago to make overseas voting easier. We can vote by mail (absentee ballot) and that is a very good thing. I will use my vote this year to try and vote OUT my state senator.


Berliniquais said...

I find this crazy that US citizens working abroad are so ostensibly ignored! What about the personnel working at US embassies worldwide, to say the very least? They at least cannot be accused of having deserted the homeland... And since you have to go through all the tax hassle you spoke about, it would be the least that you US expatriates are paid a little bit more attention...

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi JM, In all fairness we need to learn to make a bit more noise. In the past we had a kind of moral contract with our government which said "if you don't bother us, we won't bother you." With the stepped up enforcement of the tax laws I think we have discovered the limits of that approach. :-)