Sunday, March 23, 2014

Voting in a French Village

 Voting for the local Council - Where Citizens are respected.
Posters for the two parties March 23rd 2014

A cold day for the end of March.  Snow fell to the south of us, towards the Pyrenees. It was five degrees at St. Romain.  My wife and I drove down to the polling station at 8.30 in the morning.  We were not the first,
But the welcome was warm.  The 'tellers' knew who we were for as English people we are well known. But we met friends and our neighbours there.  
We really felt warmed by the reception.  We felt as though we were truly part of the community.  We had something in common, the same cause for the benefit and progress of the place where we live.
One could choose one of two lists of candidates.  There was the Socialists - La Gauche.  and then the other which was more interesting.  That list was a coalition of  citizens who had come together to consider the problems of the town.  The was  no party affiliation amongst them.  They were brought together in a common cause. Citizens together.
When I asked if I could take a photo, the welcome was so warm.  

One may discern the numbers of voting envelopes already in the box so early in the morning, perhaps there were about twenty.
The system is different from in England. One votes for a List not for an individual. Each list has about twenty names of hopeful councilors. This is quite a large number but our town of Gourdon is quite large for rural France - perhaps about 5,000 voters in all.   St Romain is just one hamlet of the town. 
The two lists are printed on separate sheets of paper. You take one of the sheets and you place it in a special envelope.  This in then placed in the polling box, the lid of which is controlled by one of the tellers.
My reason for recounting all this is the contrast I feel for the voting and political representation  I have with my own National Government of the United Kingdom.  As an European citizen I can vote in France for the council of the local commune but for no other body.  I have no vote for any National Government.
The French wherever they live from Pole to Pole have representation in the National Assembly in Paris. All French citizens are valued  anywhere in the World. No so the British - no way - no how.  Although I cannot avoid a close association with Britain, culturally, socially and through my family connections, and financially, for all my income comes from Britain and I am still taxed there,  I cannot have any political representation at all with that Government, and this disconnect hurts me deeply.
The British Government has to be classed as one of the most non-democratic in Europe.  Isn't that sad?