Why I’ll Never Vote in France

I’m going to expand on a reply I made to Watcher in the comments underneath this post.

As you all know I live in France. Whereas it was my work which initially brought me here, I have made the decision that France, provided I am able to stay, will be my country of residence for the foreseeable future. Nobody forced me to come here, and certainly nobody is forcing me to stay. I have chosen France because, on balance, I like it more than anywhere else. France has its problems but, as I am fond of saying, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. And France is easily good enough.

I don’t consider myself a guest in the country – I consider that term to be largely bollocks. However, I have chosen to live in a society of French people running things how they see fit. Whatever they have done thus far, it appears to suit me better than the society my own countrymen have constructed around themselves.

It would therefore be somewhat churlish of me to set about trying to change that society, wouldn’t it? Regardless of what I think of their politics and their choice of president, this is what the French have chosen for themselves. I consider myself free to stand on the sidelines and carp, but not to actually interfere in their choices. I came here of my own accord and am free to leave at any time, but this is home to the French.

Even if I became a French citizen I think I’d still not vote, for these reasons. When I look at what is being done in various Western countries, i.e. millions of immigrants invited in by the ruling classes who hope they will boost their chances in future elections regardless of the damage done to the host society, I think a policy of allowing only those citizens born in-country to vote may have some merit. Why should a newcomer be allowed a say in how society is run? If he or she has a particular vision of society they should enact it in the country of their birth, not impose it on others.

But as things stand, most people seem happy to allow foreigners to arrive in their country and within a few years set about changing things around. As with so many issues, I’m ploughing a lonely furrow here.

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21 thoughts on “Why I’ll Never Vote in France

  1. Tim is here making some very interesting points (not that that is unusual).

    In particular he writes “I think a policy of allowing only those citizens born in-country to vote may have some merit.” And he writes: “But as things stand, most people seem happy to allow foreigners to arrive in their country and within a few years set about changing things around.”

    As a UK citizen (as is Tim), I beg to differ somewhat from him.

    Having commented variously for controlled immigration – my third strongest reason for voting Brexit and an issue over refugees and illegal economic/other immigrants drowning or not (having been rescued 3.001 miles from the North African coast) in the Mediterranean – I would like to argue for moderation on this issue.

    IMHO, Tim is right to hold the view that moving somewhere and then immediately/soon trying to change it (in opposition to those already living there) is not a good thing to do. However, he presents this as a blanket and eternal view. What about someone moving (as is very common on retirement) from city life to small-town or rural life (in the same country). Would not those doing that, and soon after suggesting changes, be committing the same ‘wrong’ that Tim identifies? What, if anything, is so special about not doing it to a nation state but doing it to a county or borough? How about an English family moving to Scotland, of a Welsh family moving to England? And pre-Brexit, all the citizens of other EU states get votes in UK local authority elections, though not in UK national elections (and I assume reciprocity applies EU-wide).

    No, Tim should not force his view on the rest of us. What is appropriate surely is not to try and change the political or societal nature of one’s new home – without adequately long experience of living there and of seeing how most things work, so to understand why most things have evolved to be what they are. That is common courtesy, to say nothing of common sense.

    Interestingly, I saw a recent local election with a candidate from Albania (not EU, so necessarily a naturalised UK citizen); I was somewhat unhappy as indications were that the candidate had been in the UK only around a decade. In another case, there is a UK MP of Polish birth, but in the UK since age 6 (so at least 25 years at the time of first being elected – and only 6 less than all UK citizens by birth of the same age); this I thought was long enough to have adequately long experience of living there.

    In general, I would favour a requirement of at least 10 years residence for naturalisation (so twice the current 5-year requirement). And another 5 or 10 years before being eligible to stand as an MP (perhaps a bit less for standing as a local councillor).

    Unlike Tim, I definitely absolutely do think naturalised citizens should be allowed the vote – that’s pretty much what it means to become a naturalised citizen. And (eventually after long enough more) be allowed to stand for political office: just not too quickly.

    Best regards

  2. Nigel,

    All perfectly fair comments, and I agree: perhaps a period of residence is more reasonable rather than a lifetime ban.

    How about an English family moving to Scotland, of a Welsh family moving to England?

    Indeed, and the examples which spring to mind are those Americans who leave failing blue states, having voted for the very policies which caused the problems, and arrive in functioning red states bringing their bloody politics with them.

  3. Thanks Mr Tim for the expansion of your views. I can sympathise with much of what you say, though Nigel Sedgewick’s view would mirror much of mine. I don’t think you are ploughing a lonely furrow in respect of who can come and change a country: we have seen enormous evidence that many ‘gimmigrants’ want to change how we live so it more suits the world they supposedly fled from. More than one person has pointed out that if chunks of the world are better than us because of religion and social habits and even government, then why don’t these people, lovely that they are, go there instead of our damp lands? We are by all accounts a nasty, brutish race here in these islands so you would think most people would stay away.

    Of course, it must be something else that makes so many want to become ‘British’ and then change what Britain is, and indeed was. I would suggest it isn’t the weather. I recall one interviewed lady from the sub-continent who described her new country as having a year consisting of a green winter followed by a white winter and then back to the green winter. Well, she really doesn’t have to put up with it a moment longer than she has to though part of me suspects she is still in Wolverhampton or wherever. As such then I have no sympathy with any politician of any nationality who believes we are ripe for change and further, insists we change to their view of a world they happily left.

    It is also true though that things have gone too far in countries like ours, and that includes France as well as the UK. Reversing the trend of open doors and an even more open benefits system won’t be changed at the ballot box (a ballot box increasingly sold off to certain interests via postal voting). No one knows what will happen though it is easy to guess how some events will play out asa consequence. However, should things change I have some sympathy with the views of many military and ex-military people that voting should only be awarded for services rendered to the host country. Some even think that you shouldn’t be allowed to vote until you have amassed some general experience of life. Your mileage may vary but pressing to get emotional 16 year-olds the vote may not be the best way forward.

    A free and open vote sounds delightfully idealistic and many people would immediately point to the suffragettes for their determination to open the voting system. But, there is a but. If you are letting anyone vote (especially in times of low education values) then the outcome will be the farming of those votes rather than a careful examination of issues and aims. Choices will be used on looks and dress, I suspect (after the Boston marathon bombing for example a petition was got up by some young people in the US that the jailed Tsarnaev should be freed because he was far too good looking!)

    However I am not naive: virtually every major event in the life of a country in so-called peacetime at least is never part of any manifesto, nor is it a matter of debate. Brexit is, of course, the one exception. The opening of our borders for example was, as far as I know, never discussed in parliament but I am open to correction here. If we discussed it and decided we were happy to change our ways of life for reasons other than cheap — short-term — votes then I’d like to hear the arguments. I am sure that had I known my MP had voted to allow a flood of demanding low-skilled workers and families into the country then I definitely would seek to have him or her replaced.

  4. It’s good to hear that you are actually considering settling down somewhere, as ever since I have came across you, you have always seemed unhappy with your surroundings.

  5. I spent many years feeling I was an outsider in Swindon and only after 20-odd years did I feel like I was a local, and that I could start getting involved in the civic life. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like I felt like I’d be presumptuous to speak for the people here. And only after a long time, do I really feel in tune with it.

    I meet these people, generally at the upper end of the middle class, and they want to change it, there’s a plan to have an art gallery here, and I’m basically against it. Not sure it’s worth opposing it, as it’s a lottery bid, so free money, but it’s not a Swindon thing. People here would rather go and watch Guardians of the Galaxy 2 than go and see some installation of cubes and dogshit.

  6. It’s good to hear that you are actually considering settling down somewhere, as ever since I have came across you, you have always seemed unhappy with your surroundings.

    Yeah, that’s a pretty accurate observation! I’m quite glad I’ve taken to France as well, to be honest.

  7. Coming from a solid Labour area, and having moved far from that nonsense, I wasn’t very happy when I got an election leaflet from Labour’s candidate. Because they’d moved from a backward, socialist mess local to the one I’d left behind, yet wanted to bring that crap to where I’d chosen to live.

    Likewise a friend of mine from an Islamic country wasn’t very chuffed when one day his street was filled by militant Muslims having a demo.

    Same reasoning: I/we moved here to get away from that!

  8. On the voting thing, for Brexit, most English folks I know wanted Leave. My many newly-British friends all wanted Remain (except for Mrs Cynic, of course).

    It’s funny how often they are lefties and whinge about capitalism etc, despite choosing to move to the south east of England.

  9. Funnily, this came up (sort of) at home last night.

    The discussion wended it’s way around to fox hunting, and my wife’s take was:

    “I don’t like it, I wouldn’t do it, but I’m not sure I should prevent people who want to do it doing it.”

    Imagine a world where more people thought like that

  10. “I don’t like it, I wouldn’t do it, but I’m not sure I should prevent people who want to do it doing it.”

    I’m like that with bullfighting. I’m too far removed from the culture that practices it to take any action towards opposing it, i.e. I don’t really know the cultural importance. Of course, there’s no great principle here that I’m upholding: I am far removed from the cultures that practice FGM as well, but I’d happily decapitate those who insist upon it.

  11. This isn’t just for foreigners. This happens everywhere. It is in peoples nature to interfere.

    I’ve heard stories where people have left California because of the high taxes and crime and when they get to Sleepy Town US they complain about the people walking around with guns, even kids, god save us all and then push for gun control and registration etc. People really are stupid.

    But you have to let people have their say where they go for a democracy. Perhaps this is another reason that people are so down on immigrants. They come in for the better aspects of their new home and then change them to become more like they came from.

  12. “Why should a newcomer be allowed a say in how society is run?”

    I think that is covered under, ‘No taxation without representation”.

    An established resident should be allowed to vote, citizen or not. I am happy not to vote if I don’t have to pay any tax however.

    I don’t vote anyway because it is futile: the chances of my vote ensuring I get what I want is near zero.

    And for those who will ask, ‘What if everyone took that attitude?’ Then in that case I would vote since being the only one voting I would get what I want.

  13. @TimN
    “I’m like that with bullfighting. I’m too far removed from the culture that practices it to take any action towards opposing it, i.e. I don’t really know the cultural importance. Of course, there’s no great principle here that I’m upholding: I am far removed from the cultures that practice FGM as well, but I’d happily decapitate those who insist upon it.”

    That’s an extension what your post on France says- you are against newcomers messing around with cultural norms (amongst other things)- arrivals shouldn’t start importing shit we don’t agree with.
    As to what we do about it when carried out in it’s place of origin…

  14. I think that is covered under, ‘No taxation without representation”.

    That certainly doesn’t apply in France: one must be a citizen to vote, not merely a tax resident.

  15. John B argues: “No taxation without representation”.

    That applies nowhere in the world we live in and is a misinterpretation of what was said (in part) to justify the American Declaration of Independence. Then and there many agreed there was a case to answer – that expatriate British citizens were taxed in America by the British government with no parliamentary constituencies and so no MPs to represent them.

    For more information, we the longish article in Wikipedia.

    Best regards

  16. “allowing only those citizens born in-country to vote may have some merit”

    I beg to differ. What you are suggesting would mean disenfranchising immigrants who have lived in their adopted country for many years. Is that fair or equitable?

  17. “Is that fair or equitable?” It would be if they moved to that country knowing that that was its law on the subject.

  18. Voting and democracy is a shibboleth of politicians. If you examine those who do not vote, most just want to get on with their lives and not interfere with those of others. We should just have a lottery to select MPs.

    Good for Tim that he’s found a home. I’m almost forty (I was an ex-pat elsewhere in the first 20 years of my life) but still don’t know where I’ll live and what I’ll do for a living when I grow up.

  19. Watcher
    That was the reason the Swiss didn’t give the vote to women until 1976.
    They hadn’t done National Service.

  20. In my own case, I’ve been in Taiwan for twelve years, and yet I couldn’t possibly bring myself to vote even if I was granted that legal privilege. Partly that is because I would feel I was wrongly interfering in a culture which even now still manages to baffle me from time to time, and partly it is because, like elsewhere, there is so much to dislike in the existing political parties.

    However, aside from the driving culture, which I have learned to live with, there is one complaint I make. I used to dutifully pick up the dogshit when I walked my dogs in the park, but I refuse to do it now because I am sick and tired of cleaning up after the local old people who dump their kitchen waste and other trash in the park on a daily basis. My position is that I’ll start cleaning up the dogshit again when they stop treating the public park like it’s their personal landfill site. I don’t think that’s me trying to change their culture and way of life, as just adhere to basic standards of public hygiene.

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