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French-Montrealers turn out to vote in ‘historic’ election amid surge in far-right

Large numbers of French nationals in Montreal are expected to turn out on Saturday for the first round of France’s parliamentary elections, spurred to the ballot box by the threat of a surging far-right party and its allies that are leading in the polls back home.

Quebec is home to 260,000 French citizens, 200,000 of whom live in Montreal. They form the largest population of French nationals outside mainland France, and more than one-quarter of registered voters in North America, according to the French government.

The French electoral system allows its citizens living abroad in 11 different districts to each elect a deputy to the National Assembly, which has 577 seats. French citizens in Montreal belong to the same district as French people living in the United States, Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. On Saturday, they will choose between nine candidates, from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Party to the National Rally, an anti-immigrant party poised to gain the most seats.

Marie Lapierre, France’s Consul general in Montreal, says she thinks the participation rate in the city this election will be double what it was in 2022.

“The last parliamentary election in 2022, we had a (turnout) of about 25 per cent of voters. This time we have prepared for more … we are prepared to welcome a (turnout) of about 50 per cent,” she said.

“There is a very high mobilization from the French community who was really ready to help us organize the vote,” Lapierre said.

Yan Niesing, president of the Union Française de Montréal, an organization that helps French nationals settle in the city, called the election “historic.”

“Everyone wants to have their say,” he said.

Frédéric Mérand, a political science professor at

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