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French Citizens Are Raising Their Voices for More Respect, Less Hate in Politics

Bulletin de vote lors des élections présidentielles - CC-BY-20

A ballot during the presidential elections – CC-BY-20

The next presidential elections in France will take place on 23 April 2017 (the first round) and 7 May 2017 (the second round). The vote looks to be rather tense, judging by the current climate — certain politicians’ extreme statements in the media, particularly those concerning refugees, are already setting the tone.

Nadine Morano of The Republicans party, who stated that “France is a Judeo-Christian country of white race“, is only one example among others of the progressively populist evolution of the rhetoric of the country's politicians.

However, there are several citizen movements in France that want to save the country's democracy from what they see as a downward spiral and restore it to its former glory.

Here are two initiatives that reject the populist drift of politics and want it to be done differently.

The Ma Voix (My Voice/Vote) movement 

This group of citizens came to the conclusion that they could no longer wait for the politicians to change their ways, and decided to change things themselves. On their Facebook pages, they explain the reasons for their actions:

Nous sommes de ceux qui n’arrivent plus à aller voter la tête haute.
Certains d’entre nous ne votent plus du tout, d’autres votent blanc, ceux qui votent encore le font par défaut, avec tristesse ou colère.
Nous nous sentons piégés par un système politique qui ne nous respecte pas, ne nous entend pas, et depuis quelques temps, nous dégoûte même par ses frasques, ses renoncements, ses promesses jamais tenues, ses mensonges, ses trahisons, son inhumanité.
Nous sommes multiples.
Nous sommes tous différents.
Nous ne sommes pas d’accord sur tout. Et c’est ça notre richesse. Nos expériences de vie montrent qu’il y a tant de chemins pour atteindre des résultats concrets.
Nous voulons expérimenter. Pas à pas.
Nous sommes en mouvement. 
Nous avons arrêté de regarder vers le haut avec espoir. Il n’y a plus rien à attendre de ceux qui nous gouvernent. Nous en constatons l'échec, nous le disons sans haine, ni colère.
Et finalement, ils échouent les uns après les autres, car les règles datent des siècles passés, elles ne sont plus adaptées.
Nous ne voulons plus signer de chèque en blanc à des partis politiques.
Nous allons construire une offre politique qui ressemble au monde que nous dessinons jour après jour : libre, connecté, coopératif, interdépendant, concret.

We are among those who can no longer go to vote with our head held high.
Some of us no longer vote at all, others leave the vote blank, and those who still vote do it by default, with sadness and anger.
We feel trapped by a political system which doesn't respect us, listen to us, and of late, even disgusts us with its escapades, renunciations, promises which are never kept, lies, betrayal and inhumanity.
There are many of us.
We are all different.
We don't agree on everything. And that is our richness. Our life experiences show that there are so many ways to achieve tangible results.
We want to experience, step by step.
We are in motion. We have stopped looking upwards with hope. There is no longer anything to expect from those who govern us. We acknowledge the failure of it, and we say it without hatred nor anger.

And after all, they fail one after the other because the laws date back to past centuries — they are no longer appropriate.
We don't want to sign blank cheques to political parties anymore. We are going to construct a political proposal which resembles the world we are designing day after day — free, connected, cooperative, interdependent and practical.

The Ma Voix movement attracted more than 3,000 members in a few days, and the group meets regularly in a number of cities in France (recently in Nantes and Paris).

The project

"Nous aimerions que le pourcentage d'abstention  chez les 18 à 25 ans baissent à 10 % en 2017" Via Projet

Screen Capture of a explanatory video of the Project

On their website, the project puts forward a clear statement about democracy and the solution that they propose:

7 français sur 10 considèrent que la démocratie ne fonctionne pas très bien.
Notre programme : permettre aux citoyens d’avoir un impact sur la politique de leur pays.

7 out of 10 French people think that democracy doesn't work very well.
Our programme allows citizens to make an impact on the politics of their country.

In a YouTube video, the president and co-founder of, Léonore de Roquefeuil, explains that the project “aims to provide neutral and clear information on politics in order to facilitate political engagement amongst citizens”. Despite popular pessimism about France's democracy, “8 out of 10 French people say they are interested in politics and public debate”, she says:

The team explain in detail how they intend to give the citizens back their voice via digital technology:

Face à une abstention sans cesse croissante – notamment auprès des plus jeunes – Voxe accompagne depuis 2012 les internautes, pour rendre la politique plus lisible…. Notre plateforme neutre de comparaison de programme politiques est un outil de transparence, accessible depuis En 3 clics, elle a déjà permis à plus de 3 millions de citoyens de 12 pays de comparer les propositions des candidats:
aux élections sur différents thèmes. Nous proposons:
1. Une information neutre et objective à partir de la data accessible librement
2. Un vote pour ou contre le projet
3. Un accès à des pistes d’engagement telles que la signature d’une pétition, l’engagement dans une association, ou le contact du/des politique(s) concerné(s).

Faced with an ever growing abstention — especially among young people — Voxe has, since 2012, guided Internet users to make politics more understandable…. Our neutral platform for comparing political agendas is a transparency tool which is easy to reach from With three clicks, it has already enabled more than 3 million citizens from 12 countries to compare electoral candidates’ proposals on different topics. We offer:
1. Neutral and objective information based on openly accessible data.
2. A vote for or against the project.
3. Ways to get involved such as signing a petition, involvement in an association, or contact with the politician or politicians concerned.

There are other citizens’ initiatives trying to change democracy in France for the better, such as Démocratie Ouverte and the Let me Vote Project by Européens Sans Frontières. With regards to the discourse heard on loop in mainstream media, it seems that these projects still have a lot to do before democracy in France is back on the right track.

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