France’s current political turmoil hasn’t affected the relations among the consular advisers in the Southeast U.S. as they work together to improve the lives of French citizens living in the region, Dominique Lemoine, the group’s newly elected vice president, told Global Atlanta.
Mr. Lemoine headed the list of the center right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP-UFE) that obtained two of the three seats with the remaining seat going to the opposing list of the Union for a France Open Toward the Southeast.
The newly created “conseillers consulaires” posts around the world are to serve as liaisons between the overseas French living in the areas of a particular consulate general and the members of parliament serving their territory.
The UMP-UFE list led by Mr. Lemoine won the majority vote in the Southeast with 351 votes, while the opposing list followed with 200 votes securing a seat for Michele Oliveres-Alain. Elisabeth Marchal on Mr. Lemoine’s list secured the remaining seat.
Only 578 French citizens living in the Southeast out of 3,909 registered to vote, or 14.7 percent, cast ballots in this first-time effort to fill the new posts.
During their first meeting on May 28 that was presided over by Denis Barbet, France’s consul general based in Atlanta who serves as the group’s president, Mr. Lemoine was voted vice president.
Mr. Lemoine said candidly that he was elected vice president because of his party’s majority vote, but added that there was a mutual concern about the ineffectiveness of the electronic voting software.
Only three cities in the six state Southeast region overseen by the Consulate General of France had polling locations for manual votes.
“If you lived too far from the cities of Atlanta; Raleigh, N.C. or Greenville, S.C., you essentially were disenfranchised,” he said.
The three consular advisers would make their concerns about the electronic voting procedures their first agenda item, bringing them together in a common effort, he added.
The “conseillers consulaires” posts for which both Mr. Lemoine and Ms. Oliveres-Alain vied are an initiative of France’s current president, Francois Hollande.
The consular advisers are to serve for six years and participate in policy decision making on behalf of French citizens living abroad in areas such as education, social care, employment and professional raining, among other responsibilities.
In addition they elect the 90 members of the Assembly of French Citizens Living Abroad that is composed of directly elected representatives, senators representing French citizens abroad and officials appointed by the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Hollande’s initiative followed that of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who reserved 11 seats in the 577-member parliament to represent overseas citizens in a groundbreaking initiative expanding representation to the parliament.
Mr. Lemoine also said that the group would focus on the concerns of indigent French people living in the Southeast and seek to provide educational support for the children of the overseas French.
Meanwhile, the political situation in France appears to be in turmoil with the gaining popularity of the National Front party during the recent European elections and the losses for the Socialists in last year’s municipal elections.
To learn more about the voting procedures, contact Heather Kircher Clave, press attache for the consulate, by calling 404-495-1682 or send an email to Health.firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Lemoine may be reached by calling Carreras Lemoine LLP at 770-351-0099.