Etienne Smith

While it often attracts media attention for its atypical aspects, the vote of French nationals abroad has rarely been the subject of in-depth fieldwork. This study of electoral dynamics in the ninth constituency of French citizens abroad (North Africa and West Africa) during the presidential and legislative elections of 2017 questions the constraints on the nomination process and candidacies, the transnational blurring of what is at stake during the election, and the effects of atypical campaigning in electoral archipelagos characterized both by their strong localism and their particular connection to broader geopolitical issues. This contribution shows how the meanings and stakes of extraterritorial voting are multivocal depending on the actors involved (candidates, voters, local media, authorities in the host country). Does overseas voting bring about a French community abroad or does it rather reveal the persistent differentiations at work between French communities according to origin, relationship to the “host” country and to “autochtony”, social status and the temporality of integration abroad?

Since the war began in 2002, an unprecedented social movement has taken hold in the Ivory Coast, the "Patriotic Youth," that rallies around a violent ultranationalist and anti-colonialist discourse. Supported by mass organizations that control the urban areas, the Patriotic Youth have become central political actors and a shock weapon used by the government in power. While acknowledging this political instrumentalization, the Etude goes beyond functionalist interpretations of the Patriotic Youth phenomenon in attempt to grasp the driving sociological forces and assess their scope. Based on unpublished surveys conducted in Abidjan among grassroots activists of the "Patriotic galaxy," it demonstrates that also at stake in this grand nationalist fervor is the emergence of a new political generation, involving FESCI student unionism, which today makes violent claims to rights and social recognition. In this hypothesis, the anti-colonialist register is used as a vocabulary expressing generational revolution and emancipation of a fraction of the youth that has experimented with violence in union struggles and in war. It concludes by examining the influence of this phenomenon with regard to a possible resolution of the crisis. Beyond its institutional dimensions, the Ouagadougou accord paves the way for a change of political generation, the "Fescists" – both patriots and rebels – who have managed to impose themselves on the heirs of Houphouetism.