Constituencies for French residents overseas

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The eleven constituencies. (Note Bhutan, North Korea and Western Sahara in grey.)
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The constituencies for French residents overseas are eleven French constituencies, each electing one representative to the National Assembly.

They were created by the 2010 redistricting of French legislative constituencies, the aim of which was to enable French citizens overseas (Français établis hors de France) to be represented as such, rather than vote in a constituency on French territory, as was the case previously. Their creation does not increase the overall number of seats in the Assembly, which remains stable at 577, since it is compensated for by a redrawing of boundaries which reduces the number of seats in France itself to 566. These measures were implemented for the June 2012 legislative election. (There are already Senators representing overseas citizens, since 1982, but, like all French Senators, they are elected indirectly, by the Assembly of French Citizens Abroad.)[1][2][3][4]

The creation of these constituencies created some controversy, when Le Monde estimated that they would be far more favourable to the main centre-right party, the Union for a Popular Movement, then in power, than to the main centre-left party, the Socialist Party. The newspaper pointed out that, in nine of these constituencies, a majority of voters appeared to favour the right, based on the figures from the 2007 French presidential election. The constituency of Central and Eastern Europe and that of North-West Africa were the only ones to appear left-leaning.[5] While Le Monde provided the figures without comment, left-wing politicians such as Socialist MP Jean-Jacques Urvoas suggested that the government was attempting to provide itself with extra seats, and Communist MP Jean-Paul Lecoq suggested overseas citizens should continue to vote solely in French constituencies.[6]

In all, the Americas are divided into two constituencies, North and South (1 & 2); Europe into six (3 to 8), with the eighth constituency also incorporating Israel; and Africa into two (9 & 10), with the tenth constituency also incorporating the Arabian peninsula as well as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The eleventh constituency, the largest, includes every other country in Asia, as well as the entirety of Oceania, along with Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. Overseas departments and territories of France are not included, as they are de jure part of France, and already have their own electoral constituencies. In addition, North Korea, which is not diplomatically recognised by France, is not part of any constituency. The same is true of Bhutan. Kosovo, which is recognised by France, is part of the seventh constituency. Taiwan is incorporated into the eleventh constituency as part of China, as France recognises the One China policy. Western Sahara is not part of any constituency - being neither recognised as part of Morocco, nor included in the ninth constituency in its own right. The status of the Palestinian territories is not explicitly defined, but French residents there were able to vote, as part of the same constituency as Israel. Other self-proclaimed and de facto but non-recognised independent countries, such as Somaliland or Abkhazia, are incorporated as part of the country which claims sovereignty over them.[7][8]

List of constituencies[edit]

Constituency Region Number of countries included
(as recognised by France)
Current MP Photo Party Elected in...
First Canada and United States 2 Frédéric Lefebvre Frédéric Lefebvre.JPG UMP 2013
Second Central America, Caribbean and South America 33 Sergio Coronado EELV 2012
Third Northern Europe 10 Axelle Lemaire - PS 2012
Fourth Benelux 3 Philip Cordery - PS 2012
Fifth Andorra, Monaco, Portugal and Spain 4 Arnaud Leroy - PS 2012
Sixth Liechtenstein and Switzerland 2 Claudine Schmid UMP 2012
Seventh Central and Eastern Europe 16 (including Kosovo) Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ - PS 2012
Eighth Southern Europe, Israel and Turkey 8 Meyer Habib - UDI 2013
Ninth North-west Africa 16 Pouria Amirshahi - PS 2012
Tenth Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, much of the Middle East 48 Alain Marsaud - UMP 2012
Eleventh Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Oceania, most of Asia 49 Thierry Mariani Thierry Mariani.png UMP 2012

Electoral results[edit]

2012[edit]

The 2012 legislative election resulted in the election of the very first National Assembly members representing French residents overseas.

Voting occurred over a week, from 23 to 29 May or on 2 or 3 June for the first round, well in advance of voting in metropolitan France (10 June) or certain French overseas territories and departments (9 June). Second round voting occurred from 6 to 12 June or on 16 or 17 June (as opposed to 17 June alone in metropolitan France). Unlike their compatriots in France itself, expatriates could vote by postal ballot or over the Internet, though they could of course vote in person in their local consulate. The date depends on voters' location and the method by which they cast their ballot. If an expatriate voted via the Internet, he or she had a week to do so from 23 to 26 May. A postal ballot could be cast, if received by 31 May in the Americas or by 1 June in the rest of the world. Those who preferred to vote in person in their local consulate had to do so on 2 June in the Americas or 3 June in the rest of the world.[9][10]

In April 2011, the ruling Union for a Popular Movement chose several prominent members to stand as candidates overseas. Thus, Frédéric Lefebvre, Secretary of State for Commerce, was chosen as UMP candidate for the First constituency; Éric Besson, Minister of Industry, for the Fifth; and Thierry Mariani, Secretary of State for Transport, for the Eleventh.[11]

By contrast, the Socialist Party preferred to select long-term residents of their respective constituencies, who are active in their local community but generally unknown in national French politics.[12]

Numerous other parties presented candidates, in particular the MoDem and the Left Front. Many independent candidates were also present in all consistencies.

In the first round, the Socialist Party finished first in six constituencies, while a Socialist-endorsed Green candidate finished first in the second constituency (Central America, Caribbean and South America). The Union for a Popular Movement finished first in the other three (the fifth, tenth and eleventh). The second round, in every constituency except the second, was a run-off between the Socialist Party and the UMP.[13] The second round confirmed this trend, with the left taking eight seats, and the UMP only three. This was a significant surprise; early indications had been that most of the seats would go to the right. Indeed, the UMP government had been accused of having created these constituencies so as to establish right-wing safe seats.[14][15] The left's victory in North America was described as "incredible", and explained, by commentators in Libération, as being due to Socialist candidate Corinne Narassiguin's strong and active campaign, and local voters' rejection of UMP candidate Frédéric Lefebvre, perceived as knowing little about North America and as barely speaking English.[16]

Turnout was particularly low in every constituency (from 13 to 28%). A number of expatriates, living far from any polling station, said they had been unable to vote online, because they had not received the necessary login codes, or because of errors when they attempted to login and cast their vote. Others said they had abstained deliberately, considering that they should not be voting in an election when the results would primarily affect residents of France. Others considered that the candidates were necessarily ill-suited to represent the interests of expatriates scattered over often vast and diverse territories.[17] Based on projections from the 2007 presidential election results, the carving of constituencies should have resulted in an 9-to-2 division of the seats between the UMP and the Socialists, however French expatriates ended up electing seven Socialists, one Green (Europe Écologie - Les Verts) and three UMP deputies. The results were likely impacted by low turnout and support for Francois Hollande following his presidential election.

In February 2013, the elections of Socialist MPs Corinne Narassiguin and Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou were annulled by the Constitutional Council, due to irregularities in the funding of their electoral campaigns. They were barred from standing for public office for a period of one year. Four defeated right-wing candidates in their two constituencies were also barred from standing for public office for a year, for the same reason.[18]

Elected MPs:[19]

Constituency Name Party Majority
First Corinne Narassiguin PS 8.02%
Second Sergio Coronado EELV 12.80%
Third Axelle Lemaire PS 9.52%
Fourth Philip Cordery PS 6.32%
Fifth Arnaud Leroy PS 5.34%
Sixth Claudine Schmid UMP 15.08%
Seventh Pierre-Yves Le Borgn' PS 13.80%
Eighth Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou PS 11.76%
Ninth Pouria Amirshahi PS 24.78%
Tenth Alain Marsaud UMP 6.26%
Eleventh Thierry Mariani UMP 4.3%

External links[edit]

Media related to Constituencies for French residents overseas at Wikimedia Commons

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Elections 2012 - Votez à l’étranger", French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
  2. ^ "La représentation des Français établis hors de France", French Senate
  3. ^ "Redécoupage électoral - 11 députés pour les Français de l'étranger", Le Petit Journal, October 22, 2009
  4. ^ "Députés de l'étranger: comment ça marche?", L'Express, October 15, 2009
  5. ^ "La couleur politique des nouvelles circonscriptions des Français à l'étranger", Le Monde, September 26, 2009
  6. ^ "Redécoupage électoral - 11 députés pour les Français de l'étranger", Le Petit Journal, October 22, 2009
  7. ^ "Les élections en 2012 à l’étranger: Votre circonscription pour l’élection des députés", French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
  8. ^ "Les législatives françaises dans la 8e circonscription de l'étranger - Reportage en Israël", Radio France Internationale, 1 June 2012
  9. ^ Elections législatives. Dates et modalités, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  10. ^ Alexandre Léchenet and Maxime Le Roux, “Les Français de l'étranger peuvent voter par Internet”, Le Monde, 23 May 2012
  11. ^ "Législatives : l'UMP a désigné ses candidats pour l'étranger", Le Figaro, April 13, 2011
  12. ^ "Elections législatives 2012 : nos candidates et candidats", Parti Socialiste - Fédération des Français à l'Etranger
  13. ^ Official results for the first round of the 2012 legislative election, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs
  14. ^ "La gauche l'emporte chez les Français de l'étranger", Le Monde, 18 June 2012
  15. ^ "La gauche rafle 8 des 11 circonscriptions des Français de l’étranger", France 24, 18 June 2012
  16. ^ "La vague socialiste emporte même l'Amérique!", Libération, 17 June 2012
  17. ^ "Législatives : les Français de l'étranger abstentionnistes expliquent leur non-vote", Le Monde, 8 June 2012
  18. ^ "Le Conseil constitutionnel annule l'élection de deux députées PS des Français de l'étranger", Le Monde, 15 February 2013
  19. ^ "Résultats des élections législatives : Français de l'étranger", Le Monde