Voices from the French streets

Al Jazeera speaks with the inhabitants of Seine-Saint-Denis about how they view the presidential election.

Voters in poorer suburbs are likely to vote for the left, but disenchantment remains rife [Yasmine Ryan/Al Jazeera]
Voters in poorer suburbs are likely to vote for the left, but disenchantment remains rife [Yasmine Ryan/Al Jazeera]

Le Raincy, France
 – Across the country, citizens are making up their minds about which of the ten candidates in the presidential election they will cast their votes for.
Seine-Saint-Denis, a department north of Paris, has one of the highest unemployment rates in France – currently at 17 per cent – and is notorious for social turmoil and endemic poverty.
Al Jazeera visited the suburban neighbourhood of Raincy, to discover how people there feel about the elections taking place on April 22 and May 6.

Gefrey Lucio, says many of his friends are not voting

I’ve followed the campaign a bit, I don’t have much time because I work a lot, but I’ve been following it in the morning paper. The candidates have all discussed many things, so it’s been good.
The most important issue is… The economy. I don’t know all their proposals, afterwards, it’s up to them to do what they think is best for us.
For the first and second round, yes, I will vote. It’s true a lot of young people aren’t interested. I know that all around me, a lot of my friends have told me that they’re not going to vote because they don’t understand anything.
What would you like the president to change?

To earn more money when you work more. To change some of our habits when it comes to social life and the environment.

Listen to the full interview with Gefrey (in French) here.

Sihem Elhaj, wants a candidate who sticks to campaign pledges

Yes, I’m going to vote with my husband. My daughter, who is 19, will vote too.

The qualities that I look for in a candidate is that he or she listens to the people, and doesn’t promise one thing during the campaign and do another. That he delivers on his promises.
The person who I find is a good politician is Melenchon. But we know very well that he won’t make it to the second round, so for the runoff, I’ll vote for Francois Hollande.
Since I’m of Tunisian descent and Mr Sarkozy doesn’t like foreigners in France, I’ll vote for a socialist.

Listen to the full interview with Sihem (in French) here.

Christophe Lacourt, tired of polarisation between left and right

The campaign for the presidency interests us a lot, given everything that’s happening at the moment. I think right now we must resolve the debt and the issues within Europe, since all the European countries have the same problems right now.
I think we need to move past this left-right dynamic that’s gone on for years. I see, in other European countries, they focus on national unity to overcome their problems, but that doesn’t happen yet in France.

[That is,] aside from one candidate, Francois Bayrou, although he has no charisma … And it’s true he doesn’t have a team behind him. He doesn’t have a government ready, he would need to recruit from the right and the left.
He’s less excitable than the extremists, who want to quit Europe. I don’t know if they are very realistic about the situation. Personally, I’m sick of the left and the right who continuously blame each other without trying to find a solution.
All they want is to take up space, that’s what I think at least.

Listen to the full interview with Christophe (in French) here.

Mehdi Benazoun, 19, voting for the first time

I like some of the candidates. Yes, I will be voting on Sunday, with pleasure. It will be the first time. I’m very excited to see who will be elected. And we hope our candidate will win … it’s Francois Hollande.
What do you like about Hollande?

His desire to change things. He came to see us, he had the will to come here, and I liked him.

I saw him, I even spoke to him. I like his ideas on social policy, he wants to share things fairly.

Listen to the full interview with Mehdi (in French) here.

You can follow Yasmine Ryan on Twitter: @yasmineryan
These interviews have been translated from French and edited for length.

Source: Al Jazeera


France Votes 2012

Reporting on the French presidential race between incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.

23 Apr 2012
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