The French went to the polls on Sunday to cast their ballot for the next president. Who will come out victorious remains to be seen, but what does not is voter apathy. Many are still undecided, or plain unhappy with the candidates.
The victors from this first round of voting, incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, made the cut and will now face a runoff in the second round in less than two weeks, on April 24.
Voters to a greater or lesser degree are still curious about who will take a hands-on approach to what the people want in the country.
Nicolas, a publisher, feels that little is being done to truly move the social contract forward, evidenced in the unceasing strikes that plague France practically every weekend and a pandemic that has brought about a weary populace.
“The first round of the results is not so good because it’s a rematch of the last one. It’s like people in France are sleeping,” he said. “I don’t know what’s happening here.
“The last five years were awful, because of COVID, for sure, but also before COVID, we were very repressed. It’s like the government doesn’t want to hear what people have to say.”
Nicolas feels that climate change is the main problem for the future of France. The solution?
“Consume local products.” He describes having grown up in the countryside, on a farm, and eating for the most part what was grown and produced on the land.
A self-described Gaullist, Nicolas is of the strong opinion that his country has a lot to be proud of, a strength from within that it should grab hold of to continue to be a more forceful player on the world stage.
“I think that the government should hear that France is a great country and that in the past, France is her own voice on international matters. I actually think that this is the main problem.”
For Sophie, a 25-year-old teacher, her candidate of choice did not make it through the first round. Although disappointed, she said she will still vote in the second round.
“I was pretty disappointed because the person that I supported was not elected and I’m pretty disappointed that the far-right got to the second round of the election, but yes, let’s stay optimistic!”
Sophie is definitely not for giving away the top spot in political office to the far-right so will more than likely vote for Macron. As a young person, however, she feels the pinch of higher gas prices and of the typically low salaries that French people make, causing spending to be more and more restricted.
“The most important issue? I’d say, money. I think everything is getting very, very expensive. Food is expensive, oil is expensive, so I think it’s the biggest issue the country is facing. I hope he is going to do something about it.”
Helene, a retiree just coming back from English lessons, was far more certain in her convictions and where she stands on voting.
“I voted, la gauche -- for the left -- because since I was 16, 17, I am on the left side, at each vote.”
Expressing the most important issue in her mind, she said: “They have to tax the richest people, they have to be taxed more.”
As for the final round of voting, Helene said she will stay home.
“On the 24th, I vote for nobody.”