French presidential election comes to New Milford
Though separated by thousands of miles, the French election this past weekend of a new president was not just an overseas historical event. French citizens living abroad in and around New Milford had the opportunity to play an important role in the election, brining the political system in France to the United States. On Sunday, May 6, French citizens elected a new president - Francois Hollande - who beat out incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 French National Election. The day before eligible voters in France cast their support for the candidate of their choice, French citizens living in the United States were already doing so - many of them in New Milford. They were among the first French citizens world-wide to do so.The French Academy of Bilingual Culture (FABC) in New Milford was officially designated the polling place for this area for the French presidential and congressional elections and, as such, drew voters for the final election between the two final run-off presidential candidates."French citizens coming into our school, to vote, feel a tangible sense of empowerment," said Jean-Francois Gueguen, polling place president and FABC board member. "They are at home, comfortable in a truly integrated French-American atmosphere. They are citizens in action energized by the opportunity to be the very first world-wide, to cast their ballots."The FABC's New Milford Campus represents two of 16 officially designated poling places world-wide. It's a political "French connection" not felt in this area since the days Lafayette's brigades camped here. The New Milford, Bergen County area has a large French population, claiming 3,035 of a total 23,319 French citizens registered to vote in the New Jersey area.Frances' National Elections are held every five years. In prior years, French citizens living abroad, in this area voted in Manhattan, at The French Consulate, or at the Consulate's Office of Cultural Affairs.With more local polling stations, voting has been made easier this time around.France's first round vote occurred Sunday, April 22. As this past Saturday, polling in this area was held the day prior, on Saturday, April 21. Due to time zone differences, voting in New Jersey happens a full 24 hours earlier than in France. The results from France's initial vote were announced in Paris on Sunday, April 22. Results for the final election and France's new leader, Francois Hollande, were announced Sunday.