• France's news in English

Thousands of expats go up for election in France

Ben McPartland · 18 Mar 2014, 11:45

Published: 18 Mar 2014 11:45 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

When voters in France go to the polls on Sunday for the first round of local elections there will be plenty of names on the lists that might stand out at first glance.

According to figures released by the Ministry of the Interior last week, as many as 5,954 foreign nationals will be included on the voting lists.

In fact every country in the European union is represented apart from two – Malta and Estonia, France's Huffington Post reported.

And at the top of the podium for the number of citizens up for election this time round comes, perhaps unsurprisingly to some, the British– with 1,525 candidates spread across France and in particular throughout the country's 36,000 rural communes.

After the British come the Belgians, who have 1,186 nationals up for election and then in third place are the Portuguese with 1,045 citizens hoping to get elected onto local councils.

Germany has 523 potential councillors in France, Spain has 319, Italy 434 and Sweden 28.

Citizens from European countries are able to stand as candidates for local elections under a reciprocal European Union agreement. However they are not permitted to become mayor or even deputy mayor. To hold that role, EU nationals must take on French citizenship.

One of the 1,525 Brits standing for election is Tim Richardson, a wine grower or a “viticulturist” living in the Dordogne.

Richardson, who is on the electoral list in the town of Eymet, told The Local he wants to get involved in local life, rather than launch a career in French politics.

“At a local level, it has nothing to do with typical French politics. It's just everyday local life,” he said.

Richardson said the local French population welcome the involvement of foreigners in town affairs.

“In small towns everyone gets to know each other. I try to help out in local life whenever possible and to get involved. I haven’t heard any grumblings from French people,” he said.

In local elections in France, voters in most towns choose between voting lists, some of which are on a political party basis, rather than individual candidates. Those names on the winning list secure most of the seats on the local council. The head of the list, if elected, becomes mayor.

Foreign candidates on far right lists

In smaller towns, however, individual candidates are more likely to stand without being supported by a political party.

In 2014, candidates in France are standing on a number of party lists including the anti-immigration, anti-EU National Front party, led by Marine Le Pen.

In all around 80 foreign candidates are included on National Front lists. That’s despite Le Pen herself being against EU nationals even having the right to vote, let alone stand for election.

Story continues below…

She has said previously that “only the French should be able to choose their representatives in France”.

In the Île-de-France region and Paris, a number of Portuguese and Spanish names are included on various electoral lists for the National Front.  Two Romanians and a Bulgarian also feature on the National Front's lists, which are put forward under the name "Rassemblement Bleu Marine" (United Blue Marine).

Le Pen dismissed claims of hypocrisy.

"Seeming as though the law is there, there is no reason to stop a few people taking advantage of it," she said, before stating that the rules will probably change "when Europe no longer exists".

If 5,954 sounds like a lot of candidates, the number of foreign nationals putting themselves up for election is just a smidgen of the overall total of candidates, which stands at 928,021.

In 2008, 1,397 foreigners were elected to local councils around the country, with Brits topping the table with 409 councillors, ahead of Belgians (323) and Portuguese (177).

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available