“I asked for French citizenship so I could vote too,” says the Algerian-born musician.

Mohand Bogalim became a French citizen just months ago, in December. Prepare to enjoy the opportunity to vote in his first French presidential election in April, a citizen of Algerian origin has applied for this privilege and is fully and fully involved in French democratic life.

“I actually voted in Algeria, but it’s different. There is an imposed result in the elections because, let’s be honest, it’s a dictatorship,” she told France 24 from Marseille. “Democracy is not perfect but we can pretend and join a party without fear.”

When he settled in France in 2000, fleeing a bloody decade of conflict between the army and Islamists in Algeria that had seen as many as 200,000 people killed during the 1990s, Bogalem was not particularly seeking to become French. The artist involved in politics attracted a disturbing interest on the other side of the Mediterranean and was looking above all for stability, a safe haven and a job. “At that time, since I could not get an equivalent degree in my physical education and sports here, I decided to make a living from my passion for music,” Bogalim recounted with a smile.

Now a professor of string instruments, Bogalm is finally fully involved in political and community work in his city. “Previously, I would only participate in political meetings and discussions. I felt that I needed to move forward with my political involvement,” he explained. “So I asked for French citizenship so I could vote as well.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has also played an important role in Bogalim’s reasoning. “It has become clear with Covid-19 that we can be denied some freedoms. I am not against the vaccine. But I think we should remain free to choose whether or not to get vaccinated. Restrictions on freedoms and health passport tightened,” he said, eager to share. in the democratic life of this country.

Determined to fulfill his new duty as a French citizen, Bogalm pondered over the candidates’ programmes. “I follow politics closely. I read newspapers, I watch reports on candidates and listen to analyzes on the radio. In fact, politics and the presidential election are a big conversation topic at work, in a coffee shop, with family,” he said.

However, Bogalm, whose political sympathies lie with the left, admitted that he has not yet decided who will get his vote in the first round on April 10. “There are things that I like a lot (far-left Jean-Luc) the professor said, before adding that he was also thinking of Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo, and before she failed to take the official presidential ballot, leftist independent Christian Topira. Certainly the abundance of left-wing options in the first Bogalm’s presidential election is amazing. He wants to take his time narrowing down the options before the first French vote is cast. “I think I’ll decide a week before the first round,” he concluded. At that point, I have to see things more clearly.”

This is the second installment in the France 24 series about first-time voters ahead of the 2022 French presidential election. The first is available here. This article was translated from the original into French.

French presidential elections © France 24

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