outcry from opposition after surprise executive amendment

The amendment tabled by the government in the Senate to allow advance polls for the 2022 presidential election has caused an uproar in the opposition, far beyond the upper house, which is expected to stop it dead in the chamber Thursday. .

The amendment provides that voters can request to vote early “in one of the offices open for this purpose”, from a list of municipalities drawn up by the Minister of the Interior. The advance vote, a first in France, would take place on a date set by decree, during the week preceding the poll, and would be carried out on a voting machine.

The senators, mostly right-wing, have already largely rejected, Wednesday in committee, the text that will be submitted to the Senate vote on Thursday, dominated by the right-wing opposition.

“The executive cannot treat Parliament in this way. I think that the senators will not vote this amendment of + corner of the table +”, moved the LR president of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, regretting Wednesday evening in the Figaro n ‘have been “neither informed nor consulted on this proposal”.

Beyond the Luxembourg Palace, the wave of indignation has invaded the entire political sphere, from Jean-Luc Mélenchon to Marine Le Pen.

“They do not have time to establish proportionality, but they have time to rig an early vote. For us, it is out of the question!”, Tweeted the president of the National Rally, given in the second round face to Emmanuel Macron in 2022, according to polls.

The leader of the rebels sees it as “an evil wave (which) passes on democracy”, stressing that “in the USA we have come to blows”, in reference to the murderous assault on the Capitol to challenge the defeat of Donald Trump in the US presidential election. Early voting, already practiced in several European countries, had reached a record level there, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I do not want an American-style election. Let’s imagine that something tragic happens in the days leading up to the election,” underlined the boss of deputies LR Damien Abad on radio J.

The Association of Mayors of France (AMF), for its part, deemed the initiative “unacceptable”, deploring a total lack of consultation.

Introducing an advance vote would make it possible to “lower abstention”, but “the government will not impose anything” and it is Parliament “which will decide” in the end, assured the boss of LREM deputies Christophe Castaner.

Emmanuel Macron made, in 2017, “the commitment to give the most opportunities to participate in the election to the French,” added government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

The government amendment was tabled on Tuesday on a technical bill aimed at adjusting, as is customary, the terms of the next presidential election.

The right-wing opposition immediately stepped up to the plate.

– “Political maneuver” –

The boss of senators LR Bruno Retailleau denounced “a political maneuver”. “It is obviously an amendment which is decided at the Elysée and which pursues an objective in favor of Emmanuel Macron”, he told AFP.

Senator LR Philippe Bas believes that “an experiment is not carried out on a subject as sensitive as the presidential election”, judging that such “improvisation” would risk “casting suspicion on the sincerity of the election”.

Today, only 66 municipalities are equipped with voting machines, a moratorium since 2008 prohibiting other municipalities from acquiring them. And the Senate Law Committee recalls that the Constitutional Council has warned many times about the risks of fraud linked to their use.

On the left, Eric Kerrouche (PS) judges that the government amendment, “structurally flawed”, “leads to a potential good idea”. PS senators are in fact in favor of “offering a range of voting techniques” to adapt to the evolution of society.

Will the Senate vote sign the death warrant for the government amendment? “In principle”, replies Philippe Bas who adds however that the parliamentary procedure “is full of resources”.

The government could in particular lift the accelerated procedure decided on this text, to allow a second reading in the National Assembly. “It would bear the signature of a will to pass in force”, estimates Mr. Bas, who hopes that the government will withdraw the controversial amendment before the vote in the hemicycle.

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