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A Frenchman in New York: Macron Solicits Votes in the Big Apple

The French will go to the polls in April to choose a new president. As French nationals in America weigh their options and even start to organize, one candidate visited this country’s biggest French city, New York, to court votes, raise funds and boost his international profile. Jon Allsop followed his trail.

SOUND: Merci à vous ah? Merci à vous. Votre réponse à été assez dure non? (Fades out) (0.03)

ALLSOP: Last week, the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron came to New York. His message? The importance of the Franco-American relationship. (0.08)

MACRON 1: Since Lafayette and Rochambeau, since Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, we share values and what we can build is about values. (0.08)

ALLSOP: In April Macron founded a centrist political movement called En Marche!, loosely translated as ‘Forward’ . En Marche already has 1200 expat members in America. And that’s not even counting Canada. Ludwig Groesser was involved from the start. He studies at Concordia in Montreal, and came to hear Macron speak at Columbia University. (0.20)

GROESSER: Alors, justement, je pense que c’est un mouvement qui est très populaire à l’étranger. Les partis rivaux, les républicains, le parti socialiste… n’est pas super present, ils sont pas non plus très organisés. Nous justement est un peu ‘start-up’ au mouvement En Marche! On décidait d’organiser les mouvements à l’étranger, on s’est structuré, et on organise des rassemblements partout dans le monde. (0.20)

TRANSLATION: I think it’s a movement that is very popular abroad. The rival Republican and Socialist parties aren’t really present or very well organized here. En Marche! is a bit of a start-up, we decided to organize movements abroad, we structured ourselves and we organize meetings all over the world. (within 0.20 above).

ALLSOP: French voters in America are often worldly and well-off. Many are business-people who come here to escape red tape. For Washington-based French journalist Sonia Dridi, this could explain why Macron, a former economy minister and investment banker, is popular here. (0.13)

DRIDI: He’s totally, like, a kind of New York French, y’know person. They come to New York , y’know and they want, they hope to find more creativity, more dynamism and maybe this is what they hope or they think that Macron can do. (0.12)

ALLSOP: At Macron’s second event of the day at NYU, they were easy to spot. (0.04)

PAINVIN: I work for an advertising company. (0.03)

BOUDROT: I’m a real estate broker. (0.02)

CHESNAIS 1: I do video games. (0.01)

VALENTINE 1: I work in marketing. I’m a marketing consultant. (0.02)

ALLSOP: Brigitte Valentine moved here in 1996. She’s seen New York’s French population boom in that time. (0.06)

VALENTINE 2: Since 2008 it feels like a lot more French people have been coming to live here. (0.05)

ALLSOP: She says they’re more politically engaged than ever. (0.03)

VALENTINE 3: I think here there’s a growing interest, specifically because of Le Pen. I mean of people I’ve been speaking with everyone’s scared. (0.06)

ALLSOP: She’s talking about Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s blossoming far-right party: the Front National. She’s leading some polls with the same angry, anti-immigrant politics that bought us Brexit and Donald Trump. For Macron her agenda is: (0.14)

MACRON 2: …very efficient, til the election. But the day after? Well then you’re screwed, because it doesn’t work! (0.07)

ALLSOP: Macron’s politics of social liberalism, free trade and internationalism may be losing ground at home, but among New York’s French community it remains popular. The NYU event had to be moved to a bigger auditorium after a flood of ticket requests. In the globalized world Macron describes, French voters’ sense of space is shrinking, as Frederic Chesnais attests. (0.19)

CHESNAIS 2: You don’t need to be physically present in France and you can still have some impact. Los Angeles is as far away from New York City as Paris is. (0.05)

ALLSOP: Macron faces an uphill battle in France, but here, at least, supporters are already on the march for his New York values. Jon Allsop, Columbia Radio News. (0.09)

PLAY OUT: ‘Battle of Yorktown’ from Hamilton: The code word is Rochambeau, dig me? ROCHAMBEAU! You have your orders now go men go. And so the American experiment begins with my friends all scattered… (0.09, fades out after 0.06 at 3.00 mark)

Jon Allsop is originally from the UK. He studied political science at the London School of Economics, where he edited the student newspaper The Beaver, and he most recently worked for the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union. Jon reports on politics for Uptown Radio.


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