Expatriates

French Elections: French Immigrants in Morocco Speak Out

Chaima Lahsini

Rabat - In the first round of the French presidential election, French voters residing in Morocco came out in massive support for Emmanuel Macron of the"En marche!" movement. The former Minister of the Economy collected 31.6% of Moroccan votes, against 23.9% in France.

Out of the 34,385 voters registered on the electoral rolls, 18,300 French nationals and bi-nationals went to the polls. According to the figures relayed by the French embassy, the rate of participation reached 53.2% in Morocco, compared to 80% in France.

While Macron headed the polls both in Morocco and in France, the other candidates received considerably varied results in Morocco.

In second place, François Fillon obtained quite the honorable score at 28.9% of the votes cast in Morocco, against 19.9% in the Republic, suggesting that the French politician’s Moroccan reputation has remained relatively unaffected by the scandal that cost him the election in France.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a native of Tangier, took third place on the podium, collecting 25.8% of the vote. This is followed by Benoît Hamon of the Socialist Party, who suffered a sharp defeat with 5.7% of the votes, and finally Marine Le Pen who, contrary to her second-place spot in France, came fifth in Morocco, receiving only 4.1% of votes cast in the Kingdom.

Le Pen's results have stirred up some mayhem in the Moroccan media, who wonder how one could vote for the extreme right-wing French party while residing in Morocco. Although Le Pen’s results were quite low, they reflect a sustained pocket of support from within the country. Just during the first round of the 2012 French presidential elections, Le Pen obtained 569 votes of French living in Morocco.

While the figures are not high, they are still surprising given the xenophobic philosophy of the party. Moroccan and French citizens alike didn’t shy away from expressing their bewilderment at the results. From sharp sarcasm to acute indignation, social media users told it as it is.

The 560 Le Pen voters in Morocco are nicely asked to get the hell away from here. Thank you,” reads the widely-shared tweet of a Moroccan young man.

Everything’s okay? Well settled? Maybe you’d like us to leave as well? Don’t you think there are too many Arabs in Tangier anyway?” 'Raian' asked the 30 something Le Pen voters in Tangier.

Their reactions, while quite bold, are understandable, believes Noe, a 26 year-old engineer living in Morocco. “While I respect everyone’s right to vote the way they want, I can’t help but point out the blatant hypocrisy of those choosing Le Pen whilst living in Morocco.”

He added that “Le Pen’s whole election is based on a hateful and racist message. For her, anyone who isn’t French should be kicked out of France. She is taking advantage of the gruesome terrorist attacks that happened in France these last couple of years to push her xenophobic agenda. It is shameful and disgusting.”

But for Jarome, 29, who's lived in Rabat for two years, the Front National is the emblem of patriotism. “Since the age of 15, I started to have a political conscience and was aware of the importance of politics. But I wasn’t convinced by the ideas of Le Front National until I went off to live in the Arab countries.”

Jarome explains that he discovered in Morocco a national priority: the country takes care of its nationals. “This is what I like here and that is what the Front National wants to do in France. I love France because it is a country of liberties. The problem of migration in France is that people who came to the Republic want to impose their ideology.

During Ramadan in Morocco,” he said. “I respect and comply by the social rules. In France, we are a secular country, and those who come to live in it must respect that. Marine Le Pen leads this fight, that of liberties.”

Camille, a 22 years old student completely disagrees. “France presided by Le Pen? Impossible ! I don’t even want to imagine it,” As a French immigrant, she finds that "these elections are muddled, so I'm afraid of what will happen. The reason for this anxiety is a result of this attack, many Frenchmen can draw hasty conclusions, whether they like it or not.”

If Le Front National wins, I am staying in Morocco,” concluded Mehdi, a French-Moroccan citizen living in Rabat.

Macron or Le Pen, the true winner of the first round of the French presidential election in Morocco was abstention. With only 53% voters against 80% in France, the electorate of Morocco was especially marked by a low participation.

I refuse to take part in this masquerade. Half of the people who will vote for Macron now will do so to beat Le Pen,” adds Mehdi, “what kind of democracy is this? We don’t really have much choice. It’s like the American elections all over again, people simply voting for the lesser evil.”

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