French politics

To the polls, dear foreigners!

This is the first major debate of the coming presidential election.

Since a moment, the foreigners vote issue is reappearing in the political debate. Thus, a couple of days ago, Nicolas Sarkozy, as non-official UMP candidate and as official French president, expressed his point of view and his opposition once again. Six years ago, he was… in favour!

This new point of view is not surprising eventually and is very opportunist, politically speaking. Nicolas Sarkozy, the government and the ruling party assume: they need to seduce this part of the French electorate attempted by the far right and his candidate, Marine Le Pen in next April. To reach this objective, the French right still uses the traditional diatribe vis-à-vis foreigners, even if it means imitating the Front national.

This strategy doesn’t guarantee anything and is very questionable especially if it is    referred to a recent opinion poll showing that a seven out of ten French people are in favour the foreigners vote for the local elections.  This opinion contrasts with the strategy adopted by the main right leaders, still provoking more or less relevant debates.

The real issue which deserves to be taken into account is not to know if the foreigners vote must be accepted but if this vote is relevant, if we compare with other countries as Belgium – where this right exists – mainly. On a hand as another, the foreigner vote for the local elections has still political interests especially if you consider the foreigners of today are the Frenchs of tomorrow, potentially.

As I explained before in a previous article on my French blog version, the foreigners vote for the local elections must not be disregarded in the probability it may be a big opportunity to the all non-EU foreigners living in France for five years at least, wishing to have their say. This is totally legitimistic for the moment where they pay taxes, they become taxes contributors and can express their point of view, as Jacques Attali (the former François Mitterrand’s special advisor) said recently.

This is the logic the Maastricht Treaty writers adopted putting forward the European citizenship principle in 1992, considering Europeans live in a community with common values. For them, this citizenship must be expressed at the local level, the closet one, in total independence with the nationality we have inside the ECC, current EU.

The current debate on the foreigners vote should allow a better thinking to this regard. In other words, being in favour of the foreigner vote for the local election, it is to give a real opportunity to people wishing joining the national community. To make a long story short, the debate would deserve much better than this grotesque parody we are attending.