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Presidential election | The French of Montreal at the polls



French expatriates lined up on Saturday at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal to vote in the first round of the presidential election.

In the rain, the line of French citizens getting ready to choose between the twelve candidates circled the building more than once. Around noon, the wait time was about 2:30 a.m., tweeted the Consulate General of France in Montreal. “I feel like an animal, like an ox”, launched Frédéric Desbouis, met outside. In the last presidential elections, in 2017, the resident of Bois-des-Filion, in the Laurentians, said he waited more than 4 hours to vote in Montreal. “The organization here is always lamentable,” he lamented.

Melissa Bensiali walked through the door of the Palais des Congrès with her sister, Nelly Bensiali, who is pregnant. “We always feel attached to France, we remain French,” said Mélissa, who has lived in Canada for 11 years. For Nelly, who arrived in Montreal eight years ago, it is “important to give your opinion”. “Even if what we want is not like the majority,” she said.


Melissa and Nelly Bensiali

The “rise of the far right in France and Europe” is worrying, says Melissa Bensiali. “We don’t want Marine Le Pen in the second round,” she said. In France, if none of the candidates wins a majority of votes in the first round, a second ballot takes place between the two favorites. According to the Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll on Friday, Mme Le Pen, candidate of the far-right National Rally party, won 23% of the voting intentions. She is behind the outgoing president, Emmanuel Macron, at 26.5%.

Marie Hétu and Luc Piché say they came to vote so that “the far right does not come in”. “It’s scary”, breathed Mme Hetu. The fight which promises to be tight between Mr. Macron and Le Pen gives the impression “that our vote can make a difference,” added Mr. Piché, a resident of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. The latter considers it “encouraging” to see so many people come to participate in the ballot.

In the 2017 elections, French people living in Canada voted more to the left than those in their mother country. In the first round, Marine Le Pen had won only 7% of the votes among Canadian expatriates, but 21% of the support in all. As for the candidate of the radical left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, he had collected 27% of the votes on Canadian soil, but 20% in total.

Elsewhere than Montreal, on Saturday, voters in the Outaouais went to the polling stations located at the Lycée Claudel, in Ottawa. In Quebec, Stanislas College welcomed the voters. The French who are in Quebec will be able to vote in the second round on April 23.

With The Canadian Press

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