First-time female voters in France: ‘Women fought for the right to vote, and we mustn’t forget it’

Young student Asya Razaki will cast her first ballot in next month’s presidential election. Having grown up in a family steeped in politics, she told France 24 why voting is a precious right and a civic duty.

Opinion polls have warned that young French people may avoid the April elections in record numbers – but 19-year-old Asia Razaki will not be among them.

Born in Fréjus in southeastern France, the law student has taken a keen interest in politics since her early teens. She was already a 15-year-old, card-carrying Socialist Party member, and she says, “I’ve always been immersed in politics.” “My five brothers never missed a vote and I can’t imagine doing otherwise. To me, it’s self-evident.”

When her older sister ran for office under the banner of socialism in the 2017 parliamentary elections, the younger Razaki naturally helped. Since then, she has distanced herself from the ailing left party, but her passion for politics has remained unchanged.

‘Make My Own Opinion in a Nonpartisan Way’ In the run-up to the presidential election, Rezagui volunteered with the Cerfia Association, whose stated mission is to pass on verified information about the campaign and world affairs to the French. Young. Its mission is to comb the press and promote content that it considers of interest to high school and university students, via the association’s Twitter account.

She explains that it’s a way to promote democratic debate and enrich her vote. “By reading and sharing content about the elections, I get to know each candidate better and form my own opinion in a nonpartisan way.”

French presidential election © France 24 Having long backed Benoit Hamon, the former socialist candidate who left politics last year, she initially turned to Green Party candidate Yannick Gadot before turning to Christian Taubira, a left-wing icon who recently joined the campaign in January. Now that Taubira has failed to collect the required 500 signatures from elected officials, Rezagui has returned to the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron.

“Since the start of the war in Ukraine, I feel it has risen to the occasion,” she explains. “He’s risen to the role of commander in chief, he’s important in these trying times.”

On top of her role in mediating political debates on social media, Razaki loves to discuss the election campaign with her friends. “We have very different opinions, some supporting (conservative candidate) Valerie Pecresse, others (left) Jean-Luc Mélenchon,” she says. “But there is no friction, we respect each other’s opinions. And when things heat up, there is always someone who cracks a joke.”

‘No right to complain’ There is one thing, however, that upsets the young student: the high abstention rate among her age group.

“I also have a lot of friends who don’t want to vote, because they think politicians are all the same, and they’re a bunch of liars,” she says. “I try to encourage them to vote, even if it means casting a blank vote in protest.”

French youth: politically active but not eligible to vote

France in Focus © France 24 Rezagui believes that voting is not just a right, but a civic duty as well – that all French citizens must do.

“Those who fail to vote have no right to criticize or complain,” she says, adding that young women have a special duty to exercise their hard-earned right. “When I hear girls around me say they won’t vote because they don’t like any of the candidates, it pisses me off! Women fought for the right to vote, and we must not forget that.”

A lackluster campaign this year left the first-time voter with at least one regret — an uncomfortable feeling that the election result is inevitable, with opinion polls giving Macron a comfortable lead over his rivals. “Although we must be wary of increasing confidence in the opinion polls, I have the impression that the election was a done deal, and there is hardly any suspense,” she says wistfully.

However, Razaki is determined to make the most of her first presidential election. She plans to fly to Paris the night of the second round, on April 24, to celebrate with the other Cervia volunteers, whom she hasn’t yet met in person. Whatever the outcome of the election, it will at least play its part.

This is the third episode in the France 24 series about first-time voters ahead of the 2022 French presidential election. Click for episodes 1 and 2. This article was translated from the original into French.

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