“If you’re not happy with the government, turn out and vote”. That was the message of last year’s campaign. Several weeks after the riots that rocked the country’s impoverished housing estates, actor Djamel Debbouze, Rapper Joey Star, and film director Mathieu Kassovitz, told young people in Clichy-sous-Bois that casting a ballot, was a better way of voicing their grievances, than torching their neighbour’s car. Mohammed Mechmache, was one of the organisers of the event in Clichy-sous-Bois, north of Paris, where last year’s riots started. He says the campaign has led to results in his town.
It was a total success. More than a thousand people registered in less than three weeks in Clichy-sous-Bois. We launched similar events in smaller cities, they received less media attention but they also led to results. We’re actually considering organising a nation wide campaign, with all the organisations we worked with in more than a hundred cities. The idea is to organise an event in all these cities on the same day, to encourage people to register to vote.
According to the data that we have there was only an increase of one per cent in the number of people who went to register. We as an organisation would like to see more people to register. Our daily lives are influenced by laws and political decisions, so by voting you can choose the person who can represent you the best.
Macarena’s organisation is planning on organising more campaigns throughout the country. Voting is not compulsory in France, all that people have to do is to go to their loca town Council, produce their national identity cards and prove that they live in the area. But Macarena’s campaign is not likely to convince this group of young adults in the “Cité des 4000” in La Courneuve, a troubled housing estate north of Paris.
“Politicians are full of demagogy. They think we’re stupid, why should we vote? They don’t know us, and we don’t know them either. I would have voted but I am not eighteen, that said there is no one to vote for, I don’t understand their language, it would be easier if they spoke French, but they speak “politician”, they should go back to school.“
Xavier Lemoine is Mayor of a poor suburb near Clichy-sous-Bois, called Montfermeil. He is with the UMP centre right ruling party. He says it’s young people who have to make an effort, not politicians.
Jean Marc Ayrault is the head of the socialist group at the national assembly. He has welcomed delegates of organisations based in the suburbs. He is hoping that his party will get their members’ vote, but he knows that the socialist candidate is under a great deal of pressure.
I understand that some are no longer interested in politics, but the young people we met told us that they had the power to vote and to change things, but they don’t want to be disappointed. So I am well aware of the fact that if we socialists win the elections next spring, we won’t be allowed any mistakes, we can’t disappoint them.
The onus is now on politicians. They have up to the 30th of December to speak the right language and get more young people on the electoral registers. The first round of the presidential elections is on May the fifth.Listen to the report:
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And finally, here is this month's Network Europe quiz. Don't bother googling it - we just tried and it came up with nothing useful - As you know we love to fix qoutas on everything here in Europe and of course those products all then have a quota surplus - so this month's question is: How many olympic size swimming pools would the european wine lake fill? Answer please to email@example.com. Special prizes are prepared for the winner.
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