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First-time voters from France: ‘I’m sure I’ll be filled with excitement when I get to the voting booth’

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Eighteen-year-old Noélie will vote for the first time in France’s presidential election next month. The literature student comes from a family of leftists who are not big voters. But Noélie has taken another approach, to say the least. She has thrown herself into this electoral race, campaigning for the far-right candidate Éric Zemmour. As for voting? She can’t wait.

Old enough to vote just as the presidential election approaches, Noélie is restless, eager to get her first chance to vote in the first round on April 10. “I’m sure I’ll be filled with excitement when I get to the voting booth,” a smiling Noélie told FRANCE 24. She wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity for the world. “It’s very important to go vote. It’s a means of expression. Every vote counts. I don’t forget that when my grandmother was born, women couldn’t vote in France.” And yet, casting a vote isn’t exactly a family tradition for Noélie. “My mother has always abstained and my father always votes blank,” she explained.

Now in her first year studying modern literature at the Sorbonne, Noélie spent her childhood moving from place to place for her mother’s job as a high school principal. He joined Generation Z, the youth organization supporting Zemmour, in June, months before the pundit-turned-politician made his presidential bid official. “I really liked the positions he took as an intellectual when he appeared on television. And when I heard rumors that he might run for president, I knocked on the organization’s door to see how he could be of use. ” she said.

Fear of being relegated

Since then, Noélie has been tirelessly handing out flyers and putting up posters, as committed to her candidate as ever. she works with The women with Zemmour (“Women with Zemmour”) as well as Generation Z to spread the message of the hardliners. Although her family leans to the left, Noélie says that she has always been more receptive to right-wing ideas. “But until now, I hadn’t found a candidate who really embodied my ideas,” she said. The conservative candidate for Les Républicains “Valérie Pécresse represents everything I hate about the right: a candidate who is not in tune with her line and who advocates an economic liberalism with which I do not identify. And Marine Le Pen has completely changed her mind. heading,” she said. “Ultimately, the more I learn about Éric Zemmour, the more validated I feel in my decision.”

From a rural background, with working grandparents who saw the slow deindustrialization of the mining belt in Moselle, eastern France, Noélie sympathizes above all with Zemmour’s rhetoric that advocates the French countryside. In particular, she welcomes the €10,000 payment that Zemmour wants to allocate to families “in rural France” for each new birth to offset their transportation, childcare and housing costs. More generally, Noélie identifies with the segment of France that her candidate describes as relegated. “I have the impression that schooling is no longer enough to guarantee the kind of social mobility that existed in my grandparents’ time. Today I feel that I can only go back,” she said.

Praying ‘very loud’

In fact, although the literature student had considered becoming a teacher for a while, now she is not quite sure what profession she would like to have. Intoxicated by this presidential campaign, Ella Noélie does not rule out working one day in political communication, although she has seen how violent she can be. “We have often been insulted while handing out leaflets. Some people have even been beaten,” she said. “It’s hard. You need real moral strength. But I still think it’s worth it because I’m convinced it can change people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, Noélie already knows what she will do on election day. Despite her family’s atheism, Ella Noélie is a practicing Catholic and she plans to go to church to pray “very hard” for her candidate before joining other activists to celebrate the election results. “Even if we don’t win, we’ve made so much noise that our ideas can no longer be ignored,” she said. Noélie’s next target and her new friends after that? Win as many seats as possible in the French legislative elections in June.

This is the fourth and final installment in a FRANCE 24 series on first-time voters ahead of the 2022 French presidential election. This article has been translated from the French original.

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