French nationals vote in Puducherry

Routine checking: A policeman checks the bag of a French national at the Consulate in Puducherry during the presidential elections on Sunday. At right, a voter walks past a series of campaign posters.   | Photo Credit: T_Singaravelou

French nationals in Puducherry on Sunday filed outside the two polling stations to cast their ballots in the presidential elections in France, which is being held in the backdrop of rising nationalism and anti-establishment fervour.

Since 8 a.m., the citizens of France started trickling into the polling stations at the Consulate General of France in Puducherry and Lycee Francais School to exercise their franchise.

Sources in the French Consulate estimate the French population in the Union Territory to be about 5,000 with nearly 4,000 voters in Puducherry and over 1,000 nationals in the enclaves of Karaikal (Tamil Nadu), Mahe (Kerala), and Yanam (Andhra Pradesh).

Eighty six-year-old Rajalakshmi, who arrived at the Consulate hand-held by her son, said: “I was determined to cast my vote for this election.”

A native of Tamil Nadu, she was married to a French national in Puducherry. She was granted French nationality 15 years ago.

‘Crossroads moment’

Rajan Babu, a French national living in Kamatchi Amman Koil Street, said the timing of this election represented a crossroads moment for France and Europe as a whole even as a tide of populist nationalism is sweeping through France.

“Many Asians, Africans, and Arabs had migrated to France and the French government had helped everyone who went to France.

“These days, like in the U.S., racism is increasing in France as well. They think that Asians and Africans are taking away their benefits,” he said and added that he had been casting his vote for the past four decades primarily to exercise his franchise right as a French citizen.

G. Gunasekar, president, Association of French Entrepreneurs of Pondicherry, said although in the recent past, the French population in Puducherry mostly favoured the Left candidates, this time the stiff challenge from a resurgent Right wing could not be dismissed lightly.

As far as France was concerned, power had alternated between the Left and Right in the last four elections.

“Due to unemployment, political unrest, problems in social security, increase in terror attacks and recent shootings, extreme Right is gaining an edge. This is unfortunate for a country like France, which fought for the creation of a united Europe,” said Mr. Gunasekar.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 4:03:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/french-nationals-vote-in-puducherry/article18196313.ece

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