In Metropolitan France, you will have to wait 8 hours to be able to slip your ballot into the ballot box. But overseas and abroad, the ballot for the first round of the French presidential election began this Saturday. The results cannot officially be known until 8 p.m. on Sunday, as required by law.
St-Pierre-et-Miquelon got the ball rolling at 8 a.m. (noon in Paris), followed by Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy. Then came the Pacific, with Polynesia, which voted at 8 p.m. in Paris, as well as Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia. In the Indian Ocean, where the time difference is less, Reunion will vote on Sunday at 6 a.m. Paris time and Mayotte at 7 a.m.
In North America, French people living abroad also voted on Saturday, notably in New York, Los Angeles or even at the French Embassy in Washington, where four offices were erected for the occasion. A short passage in the blue, white, red voting booth, and the traditional “voted! “, declaimed by embassy staff.
Long wait in Montreal
Even if she has lived in the United States for more than 25 years, Nathalie Depastas would not have missed this electoral appointment for anything in the world. “I’m interested to know what puppet I’m going to have at the head” of the country, smiles this specialist in oriental medicine, based in the American state of Virginia. Her choice this Saturday was “obvious”, assures the woman with glasses, anxious to elect someone who has “the interests of France at heart”.
In Montreal, where thousands of people rushed to 8:00 a.m., as soon as the polls opened, Esther Sei, 26, said that she “took the time to read all the programs, to watch programs and in particular that of HugoDeciphers to decide”. In the morning, the ground floor of the Palais des Congrès in the city, which housed the vote, was packed, the sixty volunteers recruited by the consulate working to organize the queues.
At 12 p.m. local time, you had to wait about two and a half hours to be able to vote, according to an estimate from the French consulate in Montreal. More than 67,000 French people are registered in the French-speaking metropolis, 10,000 more than for the last presidential election.
Other French people living abroad did not have the chance to vote: those residing in Shanghai do not have permission to go out, the largest city in China being confined in the name of the Chinese zero Covid strategy.
A silence until 8 p.m.
In France, surgical masks will be available in all polling stations. Wearing them will not be compulsory, but “strongly recommended” for fragile people and those who have recently tested positive for Covid-19. Fragile people may also request priority access.
Voters must decide between the 12 candidates, held with the utmost discretion until the close of the ballot, which promises to be tight between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, given favorites as in 2017, with Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the lookout . The new element is the high rate of undecided voters, which poses “not insignificant” uncertainty on the ballot, according to political scientist Pascal Perrineau.
The National Commission for the Control of the Electoral Campaign and the Polling Commission also called on voters on Friday “to exercise the greatest caution” after the broadcast of text messages citing polls which are not polls and “which may constitute information misleading”. Pending the first results on Sunday at 8 p.m., public meetings, distribution of leaflets and digital propaganda are prohibited.