The French community in Catalonia takes a left turn
Last Sunday Socialist candidate François Hollande won the French presidential elections. After 17 years of conservative government the French voted for change including the French community of Catalonia, which had the possibility to express itself in 19 polling stations set up all around Catalonia. Between the first round of voting -two weeks ago- and the second round, the rate of electoral participation in Catalonia increased from 37,5% to 42%. The Franco-Catalan community came out strongly in favour of the Socialist candidate, with 52.79 % for Hollande as against the figure of 42.21% who voted for Sarkozy.
Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia plays host to the largest number of French residents in Spain and to allow them to participate in the Presidential Elections the French Consulate in Barcelona established polling stations in nineteen Catalan cities including Barcelona, Figueres, Girona and Reus. According to official figures from the Consulate in Barcelona more French residents turned up at polling stations to participate in the final round, increasing from 37.5% at the first round to 42% last Sunday. The Franco-Catalan community came out strongly in favour of the Socialist candidate, with 52.79 % for Hollande as against the figure of 42.21% who voted for Sarkozy.
Catalonia, often called the \u201CFrench Eldorado\u201D provides a home to no less than 25,000 officially registered voters, 8,000 more than the figure of 17,000 for the 2007 face-off between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolène Royal. While in the case of mainland France analysts underlined the low rate of abstention -under 20%-, in Catalonia this rate almost reached 60% as only 9,700 voters turned up at the polls.
The reason behind this seems to lie in the fact that French citizens living in Catalonia find themselves unable to identify with any candidate. This lack of enthusiasm and confidence in election promises was demonstrated at the Catalan ballot boxes during the last Presidential Elections. For Olivier, a 47 year-old corporate manager, the electoral campaign was interesting to follow but not enough so to vote. He moved to Catalonia 5 years ago but does not feel so involved in French issues as he does by wider European issues. However, in some Franco-Catalan cities, like Perpignan, inhabitants paid more attention to the campaign. Charly, a 20 year-old student living in Barcelona, is from this southern French town with a strong presence of Catalan culture, traditions and language, and he followed the elections closely and turned up to vote.
What is certain is that the number of voters registered on the list for the second ballot increased from 23,574 to 23,765 people and the number of voters rose to 9,746 which equals a 42% participation rate. Local observers consider that after a severe economic crisis and too many recent political scandals, the French community abroad tried to rebuild the future of the country thanks to a new power shift. After François Mitterrand was driven out by the right, the country has once again turned left. The Franco-Catalan community shared this opinion, with 52,79 % for Hollande against 42,21% for Sarkozy.
Spain, which ousted a Socialist government in November, now has the task of establishing a working relationship with the new French President. Rajoy declared on Monday that \u201Cmy obligation is to get on with him for the well-being of Europe\u201D.