Strong Expat Voter Turnout for French Presidential Election

A single expatriate French voter in Phnom Penh on Sunday cast a ballot for Arlette Laguiller, candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere, or workers’ struggle party, in the first round of France’s presidential elections, according to tallies compiled Sunday evening by the French Embassy.

Of the 719 votes cast in Phnom Penh, four of which were spoiled, single ballots also went to hunting rights advocate Frederic Nihous and to anti-European Union candidate and small town mayor Gerard Schivardi.

Eighty-six percent of Phnom Penh’s French voters Sunday chose the three mainstream candidates: Conservative Nicolas Sar­kozy captured 31 percent of the votes, Socialist Segolene Royal 30 percent, and centrist Francois Bay­rou 25.5 percent.

The three candidates obtained 75 percent of the vote in France. Election results announced Mon­day by the French Interior Ministry placed Sarkozy in the lead with 31.2 percent, sending him into a May 6 run off with Royal, who received 25.9 percent.

This year’s surprise in Phnom Penh, however, was both voter registration and turnout, according to embassy First Secretary Fabyene Mansencal.

“The level of participation was remarkable,” she said, adding that of the 1,402 registered voters, more than half cast ballots, meaning that roughly as many voted in 2007 as were registered in 2002, when turnout stood at 45 percent.

Eliminated far right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, who shocked France in 2002 by proceeding to the second round of the elections, received just 35 votes in Phnom Penh, or 4.9 percent.

In an e-mail released to the press Sunday, SRP leader Sam Rainsy said he had cast his vote personally in the swank 15th arrondissement of the French capital.

“I got to Paris in time to vote at the school on rue Violet,” he wrote Sunday. “I voted for Bayrou.”

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