She aims to be voice of 92,000 French voters overseas

Dr Anne Genetet moved here with her husband and four sons in 2005, and founded a consulting and training agency to advise maids and their bosses on health and legal matters. The medical doctor by training is an example of how new French President Emm
Dr Anne Genetet moved here with her husband and four sons in 2005, and founded a consulting and training agency to advise maids and their bosses on health and legal matters. The medical doctor by training is an example of how new French President Emmanuel Macron's young, history-making political movement is drawing talent from across the political spectrum. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUIST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

A French woman living in Singapore is running in France's parliamentary elections next month as a member of new French President Emmanuel Macron's party.

Dr Anne Genetet, 54, is one of 14 candidates vying to represent the 92,000 French voters who live in 49 countries across Asia, Eastern Europe and Oceania.

A medical doctor by training who moved here in 2005, the senior consultant is an example of how Mr Macron's young, history-making political movement is drawing talent from across the political spectrum.

Under France's political system, the more than two million French nationals who live abroad can elect an MP to represent their interests.

There are 11 French expatriate MPs, one for each overseas electoral district. The 9,000 French voters in Singapore are in the 11th constituency, which is the largest district by area. "If you put them all together in the same place, it would be the second-largest city in France," said Dr Genetet.

"We do have weight. We must have a voice in French politics," she told The Straits Times in an interview in Serangoon Gardens, near the French international school where her children studied.

 

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We do have weight. We must have a voice in French politics.

DR ANNE GENETET, who is one of 14 candidates vying to represent the 92,000 French voters who live in 49 countries across Asia, Eastern Europe and Oceania.

As the French presidential race heated up, Dr Genetet found that her political belief in balancing healthy businesses with the protection of individuals dovetailed with that of the centrist Mr Macron.After moving to Singapore with her husband and four sons in 2005, Dr Genetet founded consulting and training agency Help Agency to advise maids and their employers on health and legal matters. She also works with non-governmental organisations here on maid issues.

"He's the father of a revolution in politics in France," she said.

When he called for more women to come forward and stand in the parliamentary elections on June 11 and 18, she applied to be a candidate for his party La Republique en Marche (French for "Forward, the Republic"). As a woman who was not a career politician, she was a perfect fit for the type of candidate Mr Macron sought.

En Marche unveiled her as one of the 428 candidates a week after Mr Macron won the French presidential race by a landslide on May 7.

Half of the candidates are women, and half are newcomers to politics.

En Marche is seeking a majority of at least 289 of the 577 seats in Parliament to push through its reforms. The party has no seats now as it was formed in April last year.

Dr Genetet is contesting against 13 candidates, including incumbent MP Thierry Mariani, who she said is based in France. He is a member of The Republicans, the centre-right party from which Mr Macron chose his prime minister, Mr Edouard Philippe.

Whoever is elected will have to spend six to eight months a year on parliamentary work in Paris - 10,000km and a 13-hour plane ride away from Singapore.

Dr Genetet plans to continue living in Singapore and travel around the region for the rest of the time. "What I've heard from the people I've met is that they are so happy to have a candidate who knows what it's like to be a French national living abroad," she said.

She champions issues that French voters here care about, including fairer criteria to qualify for subsidies for French school fees, and better links between French expatriates and their government.

"If we want French people living abroad to be involved in the destiny of our nation, they need to understand that they are heard, that their vote does count," she said.

Clarification note: Voters in France head to the ballot box on June 11 and 18, but overseas voters have different voting dates depending on their constituency. Voters in the 11th constituency, which Singapore is part of, vote on June 4 and June 18
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'She aims to be voice of 92,000 French voters overseas'. Print Edition | Subscribe