We were granted French nationality on the 24th September 1990. since then we’ve made an effort to vote at every election and France, being France, there have been a few. In 2002 the extreme right-wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen almost became President. Everyone expected everyone else to vote and you can always expect the followers of the extreme candidates to turn out and vote, which they did.
At the time I was teaching problem teenagers. Most of their families came from northern Africa and quite a few from Portugal. I’ll always remember that Monday morning at about 10.15, we had just entered the classroom when one of my pupils asked “Will we have to return to our home countries Madame?”. He had fear in his voice and the class quietened down more quickly that usual to hear what I had to say. They knew that I was an immigrant too and that Monsieur Le Pen was non too fond of the English. I assured them that there was another round to the elections in two weeks and that most people would never allow such a thing to happen.
Later I went into the head of department’s office to hear one of my colleagues repeating what Rob had been saying without pause since the results were known the evening before; Everyone had been too confident and not taken the election seriously. Both threatened not to vote in the second round. Everyone took to the streets in the two weeks that followed to protest. One of the moments when I was proud to have French nationality. Our choice was between the devil and the deep blue sea. Monsieur Chirac wasn’t too popular at the time either, but he was a better choice.
The European elections are coming up very quickly, some might not think that they are important. I can give you plenty of links of sites covering the horrors of two world wars. I’ve read postcards sent from the hell of the trenches. Europe is important, especially as the world is in such a mess at the moment. Whatever you believe in it doesn’t matter – just VOTE!