Voting in France, a duty and a sacrifice for Brazilians

Brazilian presidential election 2022case

Only one office, in Paris, welcomes expatriate Brazilian voters, and those coming from afar have to spend hundreds of euros to exercise their right. Carpooling, jackpots… solidarity solutions are being put in place.

“Offer a seat in my car, departure from Toulouse on Saturday, return on Sunday, 80 euros. To put it bluntly, I will vote for democracy, if you prefer the current system, organize your own trip. This type of message (in Portuguese) flourished on social networks, before the two rounds of the presidential election. Brazilians residing in France, if they want to fulfill their civic duty, are indeed forced to go to the only polling station set up by their embassy: a room in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Voting by proxy or by correspondence does not exist. Hence the implementation of solidarity solutions for transport from the province and accommodation in the capital.

Marina, an anthropology student who arrived in France a year ago, got up early on Sunday October 3 to vote. The office, located at 11 rue Catherine-de-La-Rochefoucauld, opened at 8 a.m. “I only waited twenty-five minutes”, she says. A godsend: in the afternoon, on the other hand, you had to wait four or five hours to gain access to the 29 electronic voting terminals installed in the premises.

Hundreds of photos and videos showing the multi-block line were posted. Voters took their troubles patiently, under the sun and in a joyful atmosphere. Some photographed themselves wearing a sticker adorned with 13, the number of the Lula box, commenting ironically: “The vote is secret, huh?” Once the democratic duty was accomplished, the Brazilian restaurants of the capital were stormed. The inhabitants of the Paris region even stayed until the late proclamation of the almost final results, around 2 am.

The influx was predictable

To the great disappointment of the majority of voters in France, Lula was not elected in the first round. The same scenes will therefore be repeated this Sunday, with perhaps a little less participation. Paying for a new journey represents an additional financial effort and, for those traveling by train, fares are higher than at the beginning of the month due to school holidays and the All Saints’ Day weekend.

A second office in the south of France, which many expatriates are calling for, would have partially solved the problem. Yet the influx was predictable. While there were just over 8,000 registered on the consulate’s electoral lists for the previous presidential election in 2018, there were 22,000 this year. 10,229 of them participated on October 3 and gave Lula a large lead (77.6% of the vote against 13.7% for Bolsonaro). In the other polling station in French territory, that of Cayenne in Guyana, the far-right president was ahead of his opponent on the left: 48.6% against 42.6%, for 1,443 voters.

Microfinance pools

Other European countries have opened several electoral sites: three in Germany and Portugal, two in Italy and Spain. The Brazilian population is certainly larger there than in France. But Switzerland, with fewer voters, proposed two offices: Zurich and Geneva.

Marina is part of a private Facebook group of Brazilians from Paris which has centralized wishes and carpooling or accommodation offers. “We have been overwhelmed with requests”, testifies the student. The device is renewed for the second round. Microfinance pools have also been launched. On Leetchi, 840 euros were collected to finance the Lyon-Paris trip, 716 for a trip from Marseille. In Montpellier, 1,150 euros were raised to charter a bus for 50 people. A modest aid for these voters who will have paid, in many cases, more than 1,000 euros to express their democratic will.

Voting in France, a duty and a sacrifice for Brazilians