French Parliamentary Elections in Brighton 2017 (1)

On the 4th June (premier tour) and the 18th June (deuxième tour), French voters in the Brighton area will converge on the Mercure Hotel to vote, not for their president, but for their M.P. (député).

In France, a constituency (circonscription) is formed of an area with about 125,000 registered electors.  French nationals who live overseas, do not have quite such a fair crack of the whip … but at least, since 2012, they can now vote for an M.P. of their own.

Brighton falls within the 3rd. of the eleven constituencies designated for French nationals living overseas.  This 3rd. constituency is made up of those on the French electoral roll in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and … the UK. 

Officially, this represented 155,000 registered voters in 2014.  The number of French expats in the UK has, according to some sources, risen considerably since then.  The constituency may contain well over 125,000 electors.  Many French nationals, alas choose not to register to vote.

So who are the candidates who want to represent their compatriots, including those in Brighton and Hove, from across such a large swathe of Europe?  Here they are par ordre alphabétique :

Laurence Azzena-Gougeon Les Républicains (LR) (Centre) right party neo-Gaullist party
Patricia Connell L’Union des démocrates et Indépendants (UDI) Centre right
Pierre-André Goujon Mouvement 100% (M100%) A new umbrella of grass-roots and green tendencies
Axelle Lemaire Parti Socialiste (PS) Present incumbent with just under 55% of the votes
Marine Roussillon Parti Communiste Français (PCF)
Marianne Magnin Mouvement Démocrate (MoDem) Centrist party
Tony Thommes Front National (FN)

It might come as no surprise that Axelle Lemaire, a Socialist, was elected to her seat in the 3rd constituency in 2012.  Her success coincided with that of Socialist President, François Hollande.  Yet Sue Collard of the University of Sussex points out that this result might have been unexpected.  A new law in 2012 enabling expats to vote for their “own” M.P. was enacted by the right-wing party ‘Union pour un Mouvement Populaire’ (UMP), predecessor of Les Républicains. 

Since 1981, when extra-territorial voting was first introduced, expats had always given massive support to the Right. The UMP therefore expected to create a clutch of safe seats for its own party.   This trend was, indeed, maintained for the presidential election of 2012.  However, the outcome was unexpectedly reversed for the legislative elections, when only 3 of the 11 seats were won by the UMP.

Note:  In the case of the front-runner receiving 50% or more of the votes, there will be no second round in Brighton on 18th June.

Image: Par Kyat02 — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14463364

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