Voting from abroad

When you are leaving abroad and are interested in cultural differences, then you cannot miss the opportunity to look at how a major domestic event is lived outside the frontiers of your country. It is indeed the opportunity to see if the expatriate citizens are a representative sample of their home culture, or if they are a cast of their own?

Brain drain?

There are indeed some concerns currently in France about national elites fleeing outside our country for greener pastures. The scientists would be better paid on American campus and science parks. Bankers and other finance people are attracted by London and its booming Stock Exchange. Chefs are hailed all around the world...

But being no chef or finance maestro, I wondered if my personal appeal for foreign cultures, was something shared throughout the different classes of the French society, or whether I was part of one of these elites. I therefore looked at the French presidential elections with an acute eye. I wanted to see whether there were through these results some obvious discrepancies that could, at least partially, contribute to answer my queries.

Average London...

Obviously I am no expert in political science, so I won't make projections and assumptions on the following scores which compare the results of the various candidates in London against France. I just think that they are of interest by themselves... Even if you are not really aware of the ideologies behind the candidates.

First round (London vs. France)
Turnout: 29.50% vs 83.77%
M. Nicolas Sarkozy: 40.85% vs 31.18%
Mme Segolene Royal: 30.61% vs 25.87%
M. Francois Bayrou: 21.30% vs 18.57%
Mme Dominique Voynet: 2.18% vs 1.57%
M. Jean-Marie Le Pen: 1.50% vs 10.44%
M. Jose Bove: 0.98% vs 1.32%
M. Olivier Besancenot: 0.88% vs 4.80%
M. Philippe De Villiers: 0.75% vs 2.23%
Mme Marie-George Buffet: 0.46% vs 1.93%
Mme Arlette Laguiller: 0.33% vs 1.33%
M. Gerard Schivardi: 0.10% vs 0.34%
M. Frederic Nihous: 0.07% vs 1.15%

Second round:
Turnout: 30,33% vs 83.97%
M. Nicolas Sarkozy: 54,09% vs 53.06%
Mme Sègolène Royal: 45,91% vs 46.94%
Source: Consulat Général de France à Londres (found here) and Ministère de l'Intérieur

It is interesting to see that, during the first round, the "little" candidates have scored really lower than on their home ground. Even lower, should I say, since this was a major element of the first round: most of the votes were converging towards the three main candidates. Any rational for this? They are representing minor political parties and promote specific positioning, sometimes very local, and which lose their appeal with the distance. "Loins des yeux, loins du coeur" (Far from the eyes, far from the heart): since they do not get as much exposure as the more prominent candidate they tend to be neglected by the voters based abroad who do not recognise them. Worth noting the very low score of nationalist, Jean-Marie LePen, in London. Living abroad seems to open your mind on other cultures apparently... Good news then ;-)

Otherwise the end results seem to plead in favour of the representativeness of the expatriates. There is a slight bias towards the right wing but it was to be expected in the European capital of liberalism. But still, the gap between the local and domestic scores remain minor.

Honestly, I would have bet on a much greater disparity... Finally, I might be victim of stereotypes!

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