French nationals in Quebec vote in their thousands for presidential election

French expats wait in line to vote in the second round of voting in the 2017 French Presidential election in Montreal, Saturday, May 6, 2017. France goes to the polls on Sunday.
French expats wait in line to vote in the second round of voting in the 2017 French Presidential election in Montreal, Saturday, May 6, 2017. France goes to the polls on Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – Thousands of French nationals who live in Quebec voted Saturday in their country’s presidential runoff between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

Nadia Camus, an election volunteer who was helping at the Montreal college where people cast their ballot, said the process was smoother than in the first round two weeks ago when long lineups prompted some people to walk away without voting.

“The improvement is mainly down to having priority lineups,” Camus said. “The lineup for pregnant women and people with disabilities is much shorter than the last time.”

READ MORE: French expats turn out in droves to vote in Montreal

The French consul general in Montreal said more than 57,000 people registered to vote in Quebec, with an overwhelming majority of them in Montreal.

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While the election in France takes place Sunday, those not in the country who are eligible to cast a ballot voted Saturday.

Voting also took place elsewhere in Canada, including the French Embassy in Ottawa.

FULL COVERAGE: French presidential elections

The election pits Macron and his business-friendly, pro-European vision against Le Pen and her protectionist, closed-borders view that resonates with workers left behind by globalization.

One Montreal voter, Victor Silvestrin-Racine, said Saturday it was important for people to exercise their democratic right in order to minimize Le Pen’s chances of victory.

“The more that people abstain, the better the chances an extremist government gets in, so people must vote,” said Silvestrin-Racine, 26, who voted for Benoit Hamon in the first round.

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READ MORE: Emmanuel Macron campaign emails leaked online days before French presidential vote

Another voter, who identified herself only as Catherine, said she was encouraged by the turnout.

“In Montreal, I don’t think the abstention rate will be too high,” said the 55-year-old financial analyst, who was planning to vote for Macron.

She said she twice tried to vote in the first round, but was unable to because of the long lineups.

WATCH: Obama endorses Macron for French presidency

Click to play video: 'Obama endorses Macron for French presidency' Obama endorses Macron for French presidency
Obama endorses Macron for French presidency – May 4, 2017

“Voting is very important for me, so I would have liked to have been able to do so the first time round,” she said, adding she would have cast a ballot for Francois Fillon.

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This time, she said she was supporting Macron – and not just because she wanted to help thwart Le Pen.

“I really don’t want the extreme right to get in but at the same time I believe there might be elements in Macron’s program that are positive and could help France move forward,” she said.

READ MORE: Greenpeace activists climb Eiffel Tower to protest Marine Le Pen before France election

In the first round on April 23, Macron won 24 per cent support and Le Pen 21 per cent.

A day earlier, nearly 23,000 French nationals voted in Montreal.

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