Fear of Le Pen drives many French in Ireland to Macron

Expat voters in presidential election had reservations but swung for Macron anyway

French national Glwadys Cagne from Brittany casting her ballot at the French Embassy in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

French national Glwadys Cagne from Brittany casting her ballot at the French Embassy in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

Fitzwilliam Lane in Dublin could have been mistaken for a Paris backstreet in the Marais as French expats filed into the embassy to vote in their presidential election in warm sunshine.

In the race between Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old liberal centrist and a strong supporter of the European Union, and Marine Le Pen, the 48-year-old far-right nationalist with anti-immigrant policies, the choice for the vast majority of emigrant voters in Dublin was clear.

All but one of 10 voters who spoke to The Irish Times said they cast their ballot for Macron, that one voter chose to abstain.

Marc Girod (58), a software engineer who has lived in Dublin for four years, said he hoped “very much” that Macron would win because Le Pen’s election would result in a “very sad” situation for France, but still he left his choice blank out of a sense of frustration with the process.

“One vote does not make any different. There is a problem of an ant and an ant colony. The ant colony does something but the behaviour of the ant has no effect whatsoever,” he said.

He also had reservations about Macron. “One problem with Macron is that we have no clue whatsoever what he will do,” he said of the first-time candidate.

Long queues

Some 8,200 French citizens in Ireland were eligible to vote at three locations, two in Dublin and one in Cork. Officials reported long queues and about an hour’s wait in Dublin after polls opened at 8am. There was constant flow thereafter, with no queues, until polls closed at 7pm.

Fear of Le Pen drove many voters to Macron.

Laurianne Ogier (35), an accountant who has lived in Ireland for 13 years, voted for him and had planned to apply for Irish citizenship if Le Pen had won. “He is pro-Europe. He was my choice in the first round as well,” she said.

Ogier and her husband Jean-Philippe (37), standing outside the embassy with daughters Ciara and Angeline, were angry that Le Pen had accused the French living abroad of running away from paying taxes in France. They didn’t like her plans to tax French passport-holders.

“She wants us to pay a tax just to be French,” said Laurianne.

Julie Lawlor (35) was equally nervous about the prospect of a president Le Pen. She had made plans to visit the embassy straight after the election to secure a French passport for her 15-month-old daughter Zoe if the Front National candidate won, for fear she might have been denied one under a Le Pen presidency.

“Le Pen is an extremist. I don’t like her ideas,” she said.

No-brainer

Antoine Marin (35), a designer and resident of Dublin for the past seven years, described his vote for Macron as “a no-brainer” given Le Pen’s xenophobia and anti-European Union stance.

“The hope is that Macron is going to push Europe in a good direction,” he said.

Most voters had reservations about Macron, that he had not run for office before or that he was formerly an investment banker, but swung for him anyway.

“He is a young president and he can bring you ideas. On the other hand, he is still a banker,” said Gladys Cagne (36), who works for a sales agency in tourism who has lived in Dublin for seven years.

Maxine Hutin, Clement Therrillion and Pauline Dousaussoy outside the French Embassy in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw
Maxine Hutin, Clement Therrillion and Pauline Dousaussoy outside the French Embassy in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Friends Maxine Hutin (26), Clement Therrillion (29) and Pauline Dusaussoy (27) all voted for Macron. Hutin believed Friday’s email leak against Macron came “too late” to hurt him.

“On the contrary, I think that was really not good for Le Pen,” he said.

The three young voters liked the possibilities that Macron would bring.

“He is kind of new in the political scene,” said Dusaussoy. “I think he can bring some modernism and freshness.”

“It is going to give a really good energy to Europe,” said Therrillion who had feared the possibility of Frexit under Le Pen. “That’s what it needs.”