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Can French-Algerians sway France’s tight presidential election?

Published: Updated:

Algeria has been a major factor in the campaigns of presidential candidates in France. The relations between the two countries, especially the period of the French colonization and the issue of Algerian immigrants in France, have become an important part of the interventions and statements by candidates.

What is the impact of Algerians on the French elections? Who will the Algerians vote for? Can they influence the result? These questions are quite relevant.

Algeria has always been a focus for French politicians, especially on their way to the Elysee Palace.

The Algerians, in turn, are not too far removed from the French political scene. They take great interest in the outcome of the election as the policies of the new president define the future of the relationship between the two countries.

A municipal employee prepares ballot boxes on the eve of the first round of the French presidential election, at a polling station in Tulle, Southwestern France. (Reuters)
A municipal employee prepares ballot boxes on the eve of the first round of the French presidential election, at a polling station in Tulle, Southwestern France. (Reuters)

“The aim of Algeria's involvement in the campaigns of candidates in the French presidential race is to encourage Algerian-born voters in France to participate and vote in the elections,” said Algerian political analyst Gilani Benioub.

He added that “the more than one million Algerian votes are important, and can play an influential role in tilting the verdict in favor of one candidate over another.”

The Algerian community is the largest one in France compared to the various other Arab communities who number around five and-a-half million, including more than one million who have dual nationality, which allows them to participate in the elections to choose the next president of France.

“Franco-Algerians will vote more for Emmanuel Macron, especially after his visit to Algeria and praise for Algerians,” predicted Benyoub.

Then comes Republican Party candidate Francois Fillon, he added.

“The Algerians have been disappointed by the Socialist parties, especially during Nicolas Sarkozy’s rule, and it is unlikely that they will support their candidate this time. As for Marianne Le Pen, she is the farthest in terms of support and popularity because of her hostility towards them.”

Macron’s praise

Emmanuel Macroon is considered the most prominent French candidate who had clear messages to Algeria about the future of the relationship between the two countries.

During an official visit to Algeria, he stressed that if he became the president he would work to build a strategic partnership between the two countries to be able to deal with various crises and conflicts in the African continent.

Regarding the Algeria’s past as a French colony, which is still controversial and a source of friction between the two countries, Macron expressed his hope that the two countries will seek the future, so as not to keep the relations locked in a past that never fades away. He noted at the same time that the painful memory that link the two countries cannot be wished away, “but that does not mean that we would not look to the future and to what brings us together”.

In contrast to Macron, the more than one million Algerian voices in France did not matter to Marianne Le Pen, the leader of the far right and the French National party, who on several occasions attacked Algeria and Algerians and described them as the cause of France’s problems.

‘IFOP, the Institute that carries out opinion surveys, confirmed in their 2012 study, “that the French who have dual nationalities - the Algerian and the French one - played a crucial role in the victory of François Hollande in the presidential elections,” at the expense of his rival Nicolas Sarkozy, after his hostile statements against Algeria, and his desire to pass a law that glorifies French colonialism.