Fanélie Carey-Conte, Member of Parliament for Paris “The only losing battles are those we don’t even try to fight.”

Fanélie Carey-Conte, Member of Parliament for Paris  “The only losing battles are those we don’t even try to fight.”


Fanélie Carrey-Conte is one of 75 Socialist members of parliament to sign an appeal asking the French President to keep his promise. By giving voting rights to foreigners, she hopes to increase voting turnout. She points out that in Ile-de-France (the metropolitan Paris area), only 20% of the population voted in the last municipal elections.

The commitment made to establish voting rights in local elections for non-EU foreigners must be implemented. In my opinion, it is essential and non-negotiable.

The main arguments and issues are already known:

• Universal suffrage is not frozen in time in France. In fact, it has undergone numerous changes, with the right to vote granted to women and to EU citizens for local elections. Today, a further step must be taken.

• It must be borne in mind that more than two million non-EU foreigners reside in France. They are involved in daily life in their municipal districts and pay taxes. Is there any justification for these people, residents in the country, not to participate at this level by voting for their representatives?

• Such a measure does not – contrary to what is said on the right of the political spectrum – aim to foster separate community interests, but to combat them. It is the inequalities of treatment between individuals that can drive a society further organised into separate communities.

• A commitment that goes hand-in-hand with a vision of citizenship that is not systematically linked to nationality. This vision is important for several reasons. Firstly, many of the individuals concerned are themselves related to French citizens. The fact that parents do not participate in elections means that the younger generation is influenced: do they sign up on the voters’ rolls or not? Do they vote or not? These questions arise even when they have the right to vote. Secondly, the degree of representation in the municipal districts and departments with high immigrant populations is distorted by this limitation to universal suffrage. As an example, if we take into account the abstention rate in Ile-de-France, it transpires that only 20% of the population participated in the local elections.

“It is impossible for me not to see this initiative through to the end.”

• The arguments in favour of the French President’s promise during his electoral campaign are, in my opinion, compelling. Today, I do not underestimate the difficulties in implementing them. They are tied to an unfavourable balance of power in Parliament concerning a revision of the constitution; furthermore, the outcome is not guaranteed if the question were put to voters through a referendum. However, at a time when many countries, both in the EU and elsewhere, are showing the way, we are duty bound to act. On countless occasions it has been said that this promise is just an old chestnut, a long-running story of the left, and is never implemented. We responded that this time “it will be implemented”. It’s impossible for me not see this initiative through. I am in favour of undertaking the battle immediately, and developing the conditions for a balance of power that will lead to a majority of citizens supporting the project.”

Fanélie Carrey-Conte