Impressions from the Paris polling station: “You have to vote today”


Status: 04/24/2022 5:46 p.m

Will Emanuel remain France’s president – or will right-wing populist Le Pen win? For Macron, a lot depends on how many people go to the runoff today – and whether they vote for him despite a stomach ache.

By Sabine Wachs, ARD Studio Paris

“Sir, you must take both ballots”, a poll worker calls a young man back. Harry, tall, wearing gray slacks, a white T-shirt, and dark, tousled hair, is dialing for the first time. He was already on his way to the changing room, goes back to the table where the ballots are and takes a second one: “It was more difficult in the first ballot, many candidates, many programs. Now it was easy. I voted without thinking.” , he says.

The queue is long at polling station number 2 in east Paris. “The election was never that close. You have to vote today, otherwise someone will come to power who shouldn’t have it,” says first-time voter Harry.

Hoping for the recommendations of the other candidates

Today France has a choice between the incumbent, social-liberal President Macron and the extreme right-wing Marine Le Pen. It’s more than a choice for a political project, it’s a choice for a world view, says voter Noelle Péréron: “I really thought about whether I abstain or vote for Macron. In 2017 I didn’t vote in the runoff. But now Madame Le Pen could really do it, so I’m voting for Macron. Not out of conviction, just to prevent her. Honestly, I would have me rather contain.”

Macron is too economically liberal and does too little for the middle class, says the pensioner. But Le Pen plunged the country into chaos. In the first ballot, Noelle, like most of the voters at the Paris polling station number 2, voted for the left-wing man Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Nationwide, he received 22 percent of the votes and only just missed the runoff. Who his electorate decides for is just as important for the end result as the number of those who do not vote.

Power of attorney instead of postal voting

And voting isn’t always easy for people in France: “‘Hello, are you voting for yourself?’ ‘No, I have power of attorney'” says Aude Carrier and goes to the ballot box. She votes for a friend who is currently abroad. She shows the returning officer a rectangular card. It says her name and address as well as that of her friend. After comparison with the electoral register, Aude may throw the ballot envelope into the ballot box.

There is no postal voting in France. If you cannot vote yourself, you have to issue the procuration, the power of attorney, to a person you trust. Aude then had to travel east from the south of Paris, where she lives and votes. Because it can only be redeemed in the polling station where the person who gave the power of attorney is registered. And did her friend tell her who to vote for? “Yes,” Aude replied. “And I respected her choice. For an open country, for Europe. I think powers of attorney are often given to people who have the same political views. If she had asked me to vote for someone else, I would not have accepted the power of attorney .”

Hardly anyone here votes for Le Pen

Incidentally, there are hardly any votes for Marine Le Pen in the polling station in the east of Paris. The extreme right-wing politician ended up fifth here in the first round of voting, behind Mélenchon, Macron and even behind the far-right national candidates Eric Zemmour and the Green Yannik Jadot.

Le Pen’s regular voters are not in Paris, nor in the big cities. It is primarily chosen in rural areas. On average, turnout at midday was slightly higher there than in the cities.

“It’s about a worldview” – A report from a Paris polling station

Sabine Wachs, ARD Paris, April 24, 2022 4:45 p.m

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