This is a really positive step for expats and frankly, it’s something the US should have. French expats do not pay any taxes back home but they still have deep ties to their country. In the US, unlike most every other industrialized country, expats still need to file taxes and often pay taxes despite receiving no benefits from those taxes since they don’t live there. There are even some halfwits in Congress (but I repeat myself) such as Republican Senator Grassley of Iowa who somehow thinks Americans abroad are getting a free ride. He’s never really explained how and since they aren’t, he’s not likely to ever answer that question. But to be fair here, neither the Democrats or the Republicans ever do much for expats. The last time I tried sending a message to my Congresswoman online, it was rejected because my IP address was outside of the US. How welcoming for a voter. Why should I be denied my ability to communicate with those who serve me in Congress just because of my location? In exchange for filing and paying taxes while abroad, American voters have the pleasure of registering to vote and often not even receiving the proper voting documents. After taking special care to vote and send in the paperwork on time, expats can then rest comfortably knowing that their voting papers will rarely, if ever, be reviewed by anyone. Only if there’s a close call are they ever reviewed. Wow, what an honor! For the supposed greatest democracy in the world, our voting for expats is antiquated and little more than election theater. France makes as many mistakes as other countries but on this one, they’re doing the right thing.
Now, after decades of promises dating back to François Mitterrand, France wants to position itself as a model of expat rights, giving the 2.5 million French people abroad their own MPs for the first time. French officials have sliced the world into 11 constituencies, which will next year give France far-flung politicians including an MP for the US and Canada and an MP for north and east Africa. With the second biggest diplomatic network of embassies and consulates in the world after the US, France now joins a small group of European countries, including Italy, which allows its diaspora to choose its own expat MPs. Paris’s geographical carve-up has already caused political spats. The Socialist presidential candidate, François Hollande, failed to secure a close aide the candidate’s ticket in north Africa, Christine Lagarde had been tipped as MP for the US before she left for the International Monetary Fund and the industry minister Eric Besson, supposed to be running as MP for Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Monaco, said he wanted to quit politics.
I should also point out that when French expats vote, they are given the option of either voting in person at their local embassy/consulate or sending their voting cards to that location, rather than just overseas.