Motivated or disappointed: dive into France to vote or not

From Maison-Alfort to Dijon, and from Nouméa to Bersée in the north, millions of French rallied on Sunday to perform their “civil duty” or even “avoid civil war”. Others, uninterested or disappointed, preferred to stay away from the polls.

While the three school districts are on vacation, abstention is likely to be high and one of the rulings in this presidential election as voters must choose, sometimes grudgingly, between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

In front of Trégain School, in the sensitive Maurepas district, north of Rennes, it was actually “quieter than it was two weeks ago” as “we didn’t take a break,” reports Fabien Toulemonde, 47, polling secretary for Station 151.

For Yolande Yadani, 57, unemployed and born in France to Central African parents, it is nonetheless a “duty to go and vote”. “I am a citizen and I have to vote,” she said, not saying that she was concerned about the outcome of the election.

More worried Bernard Mauger, 76, a retiree who wears glasses and a New York logo hat, is more worried. This Maurepas resident says he voted to “avoid civil war”.

This is also the view of Pierre Charollet, 67, a pensioner, who believes we must “make the right decision” because “there is a special situation” with the war in Ukraine and the French presidency of the European Union.

“You need someone who knows how to handle this situation,” he insists.

In Bersée, a quiet rural northern town of about 2,200 people, about thirty kilometers from Lille, the entertainment is centered first on Sunday afternoons in the PMU L’inicted bar.

At the table, with horses racing in the background, Nicholas Moreau, 44, an opposition councilman, explains that for him, it was a “vote of commitment.” “It was a little complicated for me. It’s not my convictions but you have to choose.”

Veronique crosses the village by bicycle and puts a helmet on her head. This walker comes from Lille, where she was cast in the morning. “Of the two options, we try to choose the least bad,” she summarizes.

– ‘Without conviction’ –

In the Parisian suburbs, the small polling station set up at the Edward Heriot nursery school in Maison Alfort (Val de Marne) is now empty.

Between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., there was no crowd yet and the voters followed each other in shuffles and scrapes. In class, 76-year-old Annie Platrose, who “for the first time in her life” didn’t know who to vote for in the first round, had no hope anymore.

But there she is, like Katya, a 27-year-old sales hostess, who came “without conviction, a little tired,” because she “always voted,” and her parents “raised her like that.”

Cedric, a 46-year-old engineer, voted, “Because people who complain and don’t vote just have to shut up.”

The weather has changed in the middle of La Possession, a town in the west of Reunion Island. Dozens of parishioners left the church. Most of them rush straight into their cars, which are parked a few meters from the town hall where the central municipal office is located.

Traditionally, at the end of the masses the polling stations are filled with voters on the island. less this time.

“I didn’t go to vote in the first round. I was waiting for the second decision, and in the end I honestly don’t want to put a ballot paper in the ballot box. I don’t see the point, I’m having a quiet Sunday with the family,” says Emmeline Picard, a young aged 28 years old looking for a job.

– ‘The street that decides’ –

And in New Caledonia, where the abstention rate reached a record rate in the first round (66.65%), the second round is announced under the same auspices. Steve Lauret, a mayor, says he’s “a little surprised,” noting that the separatists had called for an abstention.

16,000 km away, in Tulle in Correze, former President François Hollande arrives with his partner Julie Gayet in the pouring rain. “We’re taking all the risks to go vote, and we’re really putting in a lot of effort,” he joked, raising his umbrella. And he adds more seriously: “There is an obligation for many voters, and it is a limitation for those who want neither one nor the other.”

In Dijon, Lucien Shamiroy, 80, says he “never hesitated” to come and vote. “I think people don’t realize it: if we don’t vote and the street decides, it’s going to be the minorities who will take power,” said the retiree.

Morgan Moish, 30, has voted in “nearly every election” since he was 18. “It’s our future,” he said, rocking the stroller as his little one, a few months old, lay warm.

At the other end of town, at polling station 28, located in a more modest neighborhood where Jean-Luc Melenchon came out on top with nearly 30%, Charlie Grolow, 41, admitted his vote went to a “not perfect candidate.”

“But I voted out of conviction. I couldn’t see myself not voting,” he adds, lamenting “a campaign not as usual, because of Ukraine and Covid, where we went to certain topics like ecology.”



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