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French Elections Abroad: Possible Fraud and Uncertainties on Voting Transparency

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2017, French MP Meyer Habib of the Les Constructifs : republicains, UDI, independants parliamentary group looks on during a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris. Habib's MP election has been canceled by the French Constitutional Council on February 3, 2023, as his supporters proceeded to "irregularities and manuevers of nature to alter the sincerity of the election" according to the institution, which calls for new elections under three months. Habib is also under scrutiny for "embezzlement of public funds". (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

The day after the results of the legislative elections in France and a week before the run-offs, questions are being raised in the constituencies of French people living abroad that raise serious concerns about voting methods and counting. As is well known, French people living abroad can vote in legislative elections, either electronically or in person at consulates and embassies. Certainly, an opportunity to increase participation, but which yesterday night gave rise to several anomalies that cast doubt on the transparency and reliability of the entire electoral process for foreign constituencies.

The most paradoxical situations were found with regard to the eighth constituency which includes Italy, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Malta and Cyprus where there are candidates who have taken such a negligible number of votes (one candidate just 15) that they are mathematically impossible on such a large constituency, in which out of almost 150 thousand eligible voters, 33 thousand valid votes were registered, Even considering relatives and friends, it is unlikely that the candidates could have taken a few dozen or a few hundred votes.

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Several candidates, deployed outside the majority parties, who conducted significant electoral campaigns, involving hundreds of people even in public events, as can be seen even just by looking at their social profiles, obtained very few votes. In the comments to the posts on social media, many voters protest by talking about “vote fraud” or “electoral fraud”, not believing the results. In fact, these results are inconsistent and in total contrast to the interest shown by the voters.
Even the sending of information material by email, which statistically produces a minimum consensus, had an almost non-existent impact compared to the votes counted. An Ipsos poll for Le Parisien and Radio France on June 27, carried out on a sample of 2,000 voters, gave outgoing MP Meyer Habib 31 per cent, entrepreneur and outsider Philippe Hababou Solomon 30 percent, Macron’s Caroline Yadan 16 per cent, independent David Bizet 11 percent, and all the other candidates together 12 per cent. Similarly, a survey by the Israeli broadcaster i24 reported. While the real results put Habib at 35 per cent, Yadan at 24 percent, the left-wing Popular Front candidate Yaël Lerer at 23 percent, Guillaume Bensoussan of Reconquête at 6 percent and all the others below 5 percent, even the candidates who were given significant percentages in the polls.

A further critical issue would concern the candidate who came out on top in the first round: Meyer Habib. The latter is, in fact, known to have always been close to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, currently at an all-time low in consensus. Despite this, Habib seems to have obtained a surprisingly high number of votes, significantly increasing the votes compared to the last consultation throughout the constituency (including Italy where the presence of French Jews, to whom he is addressing, is minimal). This is in contradiction with Habib’s campaign almost exclusively in Israel.

These are some of the aspects that raise questions about the regularity of the vote, but there are also doubts about the effectiveness of the communications and the actual chances of voter participation. Turnout remained extremely low, at just 22 percent, and many voters found it very difficult to vote. Technical problems, lack of clear information and complex procedures have contributed to making voting inaccessible.

The reliability of e-voting, in particular, is a primary concern in any consultation. Who controls it? How is the ballot counted? How do you ensure that the system is not tampered with? The lack of transparency and safeguards in this area undermines voters’ confidence in the electoral process.

For the sake of transparency, we hope that the French authorities will launch a thorough investigation to shed light on these anomalies and to ensure immediately, already at the run-off between Habib and Yadan on Sunday 7 July, that the elections are conducted in a transparent, certified and fair manner.

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