French Elect New Yorker to National Assembly

When France’s National Assembly reconvenes next week, its new Socialist majority will include a longtime New Yorker.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Sunday night that French foreign nationals living in the United States and Canada had elected Corinne Narassiguin, a 13-year resident of New York City, to represent them in the lower house of Parliament.

The victory was the culmination of a year-and-a-half campaign that matched Ms. Narassiguin, 37, a political newcomer who is a member of President François Hollande’s Socialist Party, against Frédéric Lefebvre, 48, a former junior minister in the economic ministry under President Nicolas Sarkozy and the candidate of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement party.

The campaigns in New York City, an important battlefield in the election, were the subject of a feature in the Metropolitan section this month.

This will be the first year in which French citizens living abroad will be directly represented in the country’s legislature. Eleven new parliamentary seats, including the North American one, were created for foreign nationals in Europe and the rest of the globe.

Ms. Narassiguin went from underdog to winner thanks not only to dedicated campaigning and the good will she inherited from Mr. Hollande’s election, but also because many French citizens here considered Mr. Lefebvre, who last lived in North America as a toddler, to be something of a carpetbagger or, as they say, “un parachute.”

When the 11 foreign constituencies were created in 2008, the North American seat was considered a sure win for the Union for a Popular Movement because the expatriate population voted so reliably right.

And yet Ms. Narassiguin won the election handily, with 54 percent of the overall vote. New Yorkers did not rally behind their hometown candidate, though; the conservative Mr. Lefebvre won 53 percent of the votes among those registered with the consulate in New York City.

Ms. Narassiguin learned of her victory on Sunday at 5 p.m. in New York while watching election returns with 50 campaign volunteers at Murphy & Gonzalez, an Irish-Mexican restaurant in Greenwich Village.

A team member in France relayed the news to the candidate in a conference call as supporters in Montreal, Boston, Ottawa and elsewhere listened in.

A few minutes later, French news programs announced the results on two of the restaurant’s three wide-screen televisions (the third was playing the Portugal-Holland Euro 2012 soccer game).

“There had been a weird tension all afternoon,” Ms. Narassiguin said on Monday, referring to early reports that she was in the lead. When her victory was confirmed, applause and shouting filled the restaurant.

Ms. Narassiguin is to depart for Paris on Tuesday night, to settle into her new office at the National Assembly and meet fellow Socialist party members before the next session of Parliament begins on June 26. Her position in France is a full-time job, though she will make trips to her North American constituents during recesses.

With all of the packing, there will be no time for a bon voyage party.

“I’m excited about everything that is happening,” she said, “but that’s the saddest part, leaving my daily life as a New Yorker.”

But not leaving entirely. Ms. Narassiguin said she planned to keep a pied-à-terre in the city.

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