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French-Montrealers vote in ‘historic’ election amid rise in far-right | NanaimoNewsNOW

French-Montrealers vote in ‘historic’ election amid rise in far-right |  NanaimoNewsNOW

“In the last parliamentary elections in 2022, we had a (turnout) of about 25 percent of voters. This time we have prepared for more… we are prepared for a (turnout) of about 50 percent,” she said.

“There is a very high mobilization of the French community, which was really willing to help us organize the elections,” Lapierre said.

Yan Niesing, president of the Union Française de Montréal, an organization that helps French citizens settle in the city, called the election “historic.”

“Everyone wants to have their say,” he said.

Frédéric Mérand, a political science professor at the Université de Montréal’s Montreal Center for International Studies, says the level of involvement in the city is unusual for a French election.

“You see placards and posters and people handing out leaflets on the streets of Montreal for the elections that are happening in France, so in that sense it’s significant,” he said.

The election marks an extraordinary moment in France’s political history. Macron called early elections earlier this month after his party’s crushing defeat to the far right in the European Parliament elections. The first round, on Saturday, could see the country’s first far-right government since the Nazi occupation in World War II emerge – or it could fail to secure a majority at all.

The outcome of the vote, after the second round on July 7 and an exceptionally short campaign, remains highly uncertain as three major political blocs compete: the far-right National Rally, Macron’s centrist alliance and the New Popular Front coalition, which also includes centre-right, left-wing, green and far-left forces.

Mérand says the main candidates for Montreal voters are centrist and left-wing parties.

“All other candidates are expected to be far, far, far behind,” he said.

In 2022, a left-wing alliance won big among Montreal’s French voters, with Macron’s party coming in second with 25 percent of the city’s French residents, and the Rassemblement National getting two percent. However, with the votes of people in the United States and elsewhere in the district, Macron’s candidate took the seat.

Chedly Belkhodja, a professor at Concordia University’s School of Public and Community Affairs, attributes the increased interest among voters to a historic struggle in France’s polarized society.

“These elections will perhaps show a side of France that has not been seen for many, many years, namely the rise of the far right,” he said, adding that parties that were once on the political fringe have become more normalized and mainstream in recent years.

One of the candidates Franco-Montrealers can choose from is Olivier Piton, a Washington, DC-based member of Les Républicains, the center-right party that former President Nicolas Sarkozy was a member of. Piton says he is the best candidate to represent his constituents in North America, whose concerns differ from those of French citizens on the mainland.

“Now we have to focus on what is really important to us… how can we defend our rights as French citizens, as residents of Canada or the US,” he said.

Elias Forneris, candidate for Une Nouvelle Energie pour la France, also lives in the US capital and has spent much of his life in the US and the UK. With little time to prepare after Macron’s announcement to dissolve parliament, he has conducted most of his campaign online.

“I think there is something that unites the French people living in Canada and the United States. It often happens that in France we are forgotten by the state, even though we are citizens at the same level as them, so what I would like to do is be able to represent the voice of the French people here,” he said. .

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2024.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Joe Bongiorno, The Canadian Press