France goes to the polls this Sunday to a elect a new president, with a choice between far-right candidate Marine le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron. We asked French citizens in Sheffield how they’d be voting.
Alice Rigoux, 21, is a student and has been in Sheffield for nine months. She didn’t register in time to vote from abroad, which she’s not pleased about, but says she wouldn’t know who to choose anyway.
She compares the election to the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; a vote for the “less bad” candidate. She says the reaction to last night’s debate shows people don’t take le Pen seriously and predicts a Macron victory.
Alice is disillusioned because her preferred candidate, leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was knocked out in the last round of voting.
“My dad was pretty mad that my brother and I wanted to vote for him (Mélenchon), and I think it’s because young people tend to vote for these kind of candidates and older people think he’s not serious,” she said.
Alice’s frustration is shared by other Mélenchon supporters; a recent poll found the majority of them will abstain or spoil their ballots on Sunday.
Julien Digoude, 21, is also a student, and is registered to vote in the French Embassy in Leeds. He says he’s 100% for Macron.
“We cannot take the risk of electing Marine le Pen. She’s very dangerous for our nation, she’s dangerous for the values we are protecting; liberté, égalité, solidarité,” he said.
Julien says a Macron victory will stop le Pen from pulling France out of the EU and could mean a softer Brexit, which is in his interest as he’s hoping to stay in the UK for the foreseeable future.
Yasmine Tabi, 25, teaches French in Sheffield and is backing Macron by proxy vote.
“I’m voting for Macron not because I want him to win but because it’s better than having le Pen in power,” she said.
Valentine Olivero, 24, has lived here for two years and shares Yasmine’s view.
“Macron is definitely not my candidate, but with Marine le Pen we just can’t take the risk. I can’t see France with the far-right at the head of the state,” she said.
Macron and le Pen debated on French television last night, with both claiming they came off the better. Pundits were more impressed with Macron’s performance, however, and his lead in the polls remains significant.