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Sunday, April 22, 2007

French people voting in San Francisco



French people went to the polls today in France to vote for the main presidential candidates they will consider for the second tour, scheduled for May 6th; French expats did the same thing at the French Consulat of San Francisco, located at 530 Bush St., on Saturday, April 21.

Les Français sont allés voter aujourd'hui pour sélectionner les candidats finalistes aux elections présidentielles qui se présenteront au 2ème tour le 6 Mai, et les expatriés Français de la région ont fait la même chose le Samedi 21 Avril, au Consulat Français de San Francisco, situé 530 rue Bush.





The main contenders among the 12 candidates were Nicolas Sarcozy, Ségolène Royal, François Bayrou, and [unfortunately] Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Sur les 12, les candidats principaux étaient Nicolas Sarcozy, Ségolène Royal, François Bayrou, et [malheureusement] Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Because it was such an ordeal and the turn-out was "historically important" (see Le Monde, Figaro, Yahoo, etc.), I thought I'd get this blog out of "vacation" and bring you a few pictures.

Parce cette élection est importante et que les gens partout ont été voter en masse (record historique d'après Le Monde, le Figaro, Yahoo, etc.), je me suis dit que ce serait sans doute une bonne idée de faire sortir le blog de ses vacances et de vous mettre quelques photos.




French expats from all over the Bay Area (not just San Francisco) had come to cast their vote, and when I got there, the waiting line was already wrapping around the block, way up Stockton St. The expected waiting time (under the rain, too!) was nearly ... 2 hours!

Les expats Français étaient venus voter de tous les coins de la Baie (pas seulement SF), et quand je suis arrivéee, la queue faisait déjà le tour du pathé de maison, jusqu'au milieu de la rue Stockton, tout en haut derrière. L'attente prévue avant de pouvoir entrer à l'intérieur de l'immeuble (sous la pluie, en plus!) était ... 2 heures!

Some German tourists asked me if there was a good movie or some kind of important event going on; when I explained to them that they were looking at a bunch of French expats going to the polls, they appeared to be really impressed! To tell the truth, so was I.

Des touristes Allemands très intrigués m'ont demandé s'il y avait un bon film ou s'il se passait quelque chose d'important; quand je leur ai expliqué qu'ils étaient en train de regarder des Français qui faisaient la queue pour aller voter, ils ont eu l'air d'être drolement impressionnés! Pour dire la vérité, je l'étais aussi.



Surprisingly, the mood was pretty good among most of the people waiting in line and some started socializing with each other to pass the time. Because you see, for most of these French expats, going to the polls at the Consulate is a big deal! It's not just about casting a vote, but it's almost like a small visit to France, believe it or not, and the opportunity for them (and/or their spouses and/or children) to see that there are other French people around, to speak the language a little bit, maybe exchange tips about the US if they are relatively new in the country or impressions about the old country if they've been around for a while ...

Etonnamment, la plupart des gens qui faisaient la queue avaient l'air d'être de relativement bonne humeur, et certains discutaient entre eux de tout et de rien, pour passer le temps. Car vous voyez, pour la plupart de ces expats, aller voter au Consulat Français, c'est un évenement, en quelque sorte. On n'y va pas seulement pour voter, mais ça fait aussi presque comme une petite visite en France, et ça donne aux gens (ainsi qu'à leurs enfants, leurs époux) l'occasion de se rassembler avec d'autres Français, de parler un peu la langue, peut-être même pour les nouveaux venus échanger des tuyaux pratiques sur le pays, et pour ceux qui sont là depuis plus longtemps, d'echanger des propos sur "l'autre" pays, celui qu'on a laissé derrière ...





A family told me that they had driven all the way from St. Helena, Napa County, to get to the Consulate (that's a couple of hours, each way), and that people they knew were driving down from Eureka (that's 271 miles from SF)!

Une famille m'a dit qu'ils étaient venus en voiture de St. Helena, Napa County (ce qui fait 2 heures de conduite multiplié par 2), et qu'ils connaissaient même des gens qui allaient venir de Eureka (433 km de SF)!

For most of these expats, the visit isn't just time consuming, it is also expensive. Unless you come from the South Bay, you'll have to pay bridge fees and, of course, a hefty parking fee since the Consulate is located right in the heart of the Financial District, and 2 blocks away from Union Square, where street parking is pratically unheard of.

Pour la plupart de ces expats, la visite n'est pas seulement un investissement de temps, mais c'est pas donné non plus. D'abord faut payer le péage aux ponts (sauf ceux qui viennent du Sud), ensuite le parking à l'heure, car le Consulat est en plein milieu du Quartier des Affaires, et à 2 pathés de maison de Union Square, ou personne n'arrive jamais à se garer dans la rue.

I guess you really have to want to vote to make all this effort!
Il faut vraiment avoir envie d'aller voter pour faire tout cet effort!



Anyway, I posted a few more pictures so you can see what you missed. I might put the blog back on vacation for a while after today, but I just had to acknowledge the dedication of all these people, you know, somebody has to (as far as I know, the mainstream local media has beeen surprisingly silent about the event).

Enfin bref, j'ai mis des photos supplémentaires ici pour que vous puissiez bien voir ce que vous avez raté. Il est très possible que je remette le blog en vacances après ce billet, mais je me suis sentie obligée de marquer le coup, car je peux me tromper mais il me semble que l'effort de tous ces gens est passé complètement inaperçu dans les tous les journaux locaux et sur les chaines de TV du coin, ce qui est quand même dommage.

UPDATE: To find out how people voted locally, check out this article from siliconvaleyfrogs.com (in French)

MAJ: Pour voir comment les gens ont voté chez nous, consultez cet article de siliconvaleyfrogs.com (en Français)



* * *

Also, check out what Also see this expat of Marin County, California, had to say about going to vote on Saturday (in English)

Allez voir aussi comment cette expat de la région de New York racconte son expedition au bureau de vote Samedi dernier (en Français)

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12 Comments:

Blogger lynn said...

Great set of photos Tomate. Bet Eric is glad to see all that!

2:35 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Excellent. Thank you Tomate, amazing how some people made the effort to go to SF to vote. That is good.

I suppose that French people who emigrated to the US are more likely to vote for Sarkozy than Royal Right?

3:02 PM  
Blogger buzzgirl said...

Wow! Those lines were insane - but really great to see. I just read on another blog that 86% of eligible voters voted. If that's true, then that is truly impressive!

Hope your candidate made it to round 2.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

Great photos Tomate, and very interesting piece of information. Those people were not only standing in line under the rain, but they were standing in line on a slope street!

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Otir said...

Good to see you back on the occasion! I would have called it the "first round" rather than "primaries" because the word seems to refer to a choice within the same coalition or political party, which is certainly not the case in the French system.

Here also, I went to lots of trouble traveling to the City to cast a vote, and also retold the adventure on my blog. We had a sunny weather and at the time I was there a shorter line, but also three different locations to accomodate the voters.

Nice experience, even though I am disappointed as far as I am concerned by the outcome.

Thanks for the great pictures!
Hope to see you again soon.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Christophe said...

Super article, bonne reprise ! Je connais un fidele lecteur qui va être content de voir que ton blog n'est plus en vacance. Par contre, il va me faire la remarque que dommage, tu n'as écrit qu'en anglais ! ;o)

6:20 PM  
Blogger Le Piou said...

BOn retour parmis nous!
C'est clair que c'etait beau de voir c'est elan de civisme...

9:06 AM  
Blogger luggi said...

Very impressive. Great post, as always.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Sardinette said...

salut Tomate!
contente de t'avoir de retour!!!
merci pour les photos et l'article!
a bientot!
sardinette ;)

1:07 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

J'ai la chance d'y etre aller avant que la pluie tombe.
C'est vrai que parking + bay bridge ca m'a fait 16 dollars. Bravo a ceux venu de Napa et Eureka.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Wow Tomate, I just happened to come back here and see this great post. I didn't realise you had posted something about the elections.

Can't French expats vote by proxy via the mail or something? I do it every 4 years at least for the U.S. elections. Sometimes more if it's a local election. A lot easier than going to the U.S. embassy.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Thanks for the comments and the visits, guys! :) Good to be remembered :)

Eric: I thought the same thing, i.e., that expats were more likely to vote to the right. But I'm not sure they do. There is an interesting post at:

http://siliconvalleyfrogs.com/

showing how people voted, really worth a look (see posts of April 30, and May 3).

Michael: yes, there are other ways to cast your vote but like I said, for many of these expats, a trip to the French Consulate is more than just dropping an envelope in a box, it's also a little bit of a visit to the home country (well, maybe not everybody is sentimental about it, but many are at least a little bit).

Bon, eh bien il n'y a plus qu'esperer pour le mieux pour ce week-end. (Let's just hope for the best).

4:49 PM  

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