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Silence, on vote au Charleroi Espace Meeting Européen!

Silence, let’s vote in the Charleroi Espace to meet Europe!

“To vote!” Her voice reverberates in the large rooms on the first floor of the Charleroi Espace Meeting Européen (CEME), and there are quite a few people there to hear it. This Sunday at 2 pm, when people everywhere in France and abroad are voting for the first round of the presidential election, it is very quiet in Charleroi.

People come and go around the two transparent ballot boxes filled with little blue envelopes. Downstairs, the security guard, with his metal detector, makes sure that no weapons are brought into the polling stations. Election law is required. This same law avoiding that in the parking lot, a camper pulls her up and tries to impress her at the last minute.

In dozens of polling booths, voters stand behind a white curtain, voters place their ballot papers in their envelope, a piece of paper a few centimeters long that mentions only one name. These envelopes are counted, first at the upstream according to the number of registrants, and then when opened during counting. On the table, there are twelve piles of ballot papers waiting. Twelve names of candidates for the presidency. You must take at least two before entering the voting booth.

“We allocate much more than in Belgium, there is no chance: the person who gets the most votes will be elected to the presidency”Explains Philip, who has dual citizenship. “It is more clear, we do not have this phenomenon that makes the highest office, which is equivalent to the prime minister here, a bit random depending on the negotiations between the two parties,” he added. He voted with conviction, and his daughter Estelle voted helpful: “Politics in France also affects Belgium, through its proximity. We must make no mistake. For example, I want France to welcome Ukrainian refugees, which is why I voted helpful”She said, explaining that her sister did not come to the first round but would block the far right in the second round if necessary. “She thinks that it is not her prerogative, who lives in Belgium, to decide on measures that will primarily affect the French. It is a point of view.”

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At the exit from the polls, we meet Salah: “I felt compelled to vote for democracy. I had been in Belgium for fifteen years, before that I lived in Paris and came to work. It is important to express your opinion, otherwise there is the danger of people winning and even manipulating things. The campaign was very strange, though, With international tensions that have changed the whole world in a month and a half. Now we have to decide whether we line ourselves up with the Americans, or the Russians, or the Chinese, or not. This is not only a debate, but it is very political. France is a big country, purchasing power, and labor Health, education…everything that matters. And certainly not attacking foreigners, even if it seems like the presidential debates have been broken up for years and years…”

Regina, a woman in her sixties, approaches as we speak with Salah. Without specifying her opinion, she said, “It is the first time in my life that I have voted, sir.” “I’m not political at all, I’ve always thought that absolutely nothing would change. But this time I decided to lend my support. This time, every vote really counts. There is a way to change things, finally.”

The polling station is open until 7 pm. Then it will be the fateful counting moment.