A good citizen ...

Un bon citoyen ...

understands that there are others around

...is not selfish and makes community decisions based on the well-being of everyone.

abides the laws, works hard to achieve his dreams, and as a side product creates wealth for society.

always does what's best for his/her country and community.

cares for the betterment of his/her country and strives to make an impact in his/her society.

fulfills his duties towards his/her country such as voting in elections and paying taxes. He/she must also be respectful of other citizens' rights.

helps those around him/her.

is active in the community.

is informed about their country and the current events surrounding their government.

is one who performs his duties for his country.

is one who uses its rights to vote and participate in the community as well as obey the laws of its country.

is someone who abides by the laws of their place of citizenship.

makes use of their rights and always looks to stand up to crime.

pays his or her taxes.

respects what's public

someone who volunteers, pays taxes, and doesn't break the law.

thinks of his civic duties.

upholds the law, participates in the political arena, and is welcoming to other citizens and non-citizens.

votes in the elections, supports his community, and volunteers.

votes, does jury duty, and cares for his/her society.

works hard to contribute something positive to/maintain his community, and thinks about future improvements that would benefit the community.

a des droits et des devoirs.

a le sens du civisme, se soucie du bien-être de tous, vote aux élections

c'est celui qui respecte les autres citoyen et respecte sa patrie

connaît ses droits mais aussi ses devoirs.

connait ses droits et ses devoirs.

contribue au développement de son pays

est capable de respecter la liberté des autres.

est un citoyen du monde.

est une personne qui a conscience de ses droits et les utilise mais aussi de ses devoirs.

est une personne qui pense à l'intérêt pour le pays

est une personne qui respecte ses congénères

participe aux élections.

qui vote,
qui suit l'actualité,
qui peut remettre en question les décisions d'un gouvernement qu'il a choisi

respecte et se respecte

respecte les droits et les valeurs du pays, vote, paye ses impôts.

respecte les droits individuels et collectifs

respecte les lois.

se tient au courant, propose, fait avancer les choses.

vote, fait du mieux qu'il peut pour faire avancer son pays dans le sens qui lui paraît le plus juste.

vote, respecte les autres et le matériel


I found it very interesting that most of the answers are the same on both sides. Both sides consider a good citizen someone who cares for his community, who upholds the law, and who fulfills his duties. The only truly different answers were that the Americans mentioned that a good citizen participates in the political arena and does jury duty, whereas the French mentioned that a good citizen is a global citizen. However, I found some more subtle differences. For example, the French seem to emphasize much more that a good citizen knows and uses his rights (mentioned six times), whereas it is really only mentioned once on the American side. Something very similar is found with respect to respecting the rights of other citizens (it is mentioned much more frequently on the French side). Why is that? Is it maybe that the Americans find it more important that a good citizen does his/her duty first?

I found it very interesting that many American responses were concerned with actively participating in the political environment while many French responses were concerned with both knowing about politics and participating.  


In America, organizations are always attempting to increase voter turnout in elections, primarily in the presidential elections.  In the last American presidential election, the voter turnout was around 55% according to sources I found online (I'm unsure of their accuracy).  How does voter turnout compare in France for presidential elections and do people take them very seriously?

If I remember correctly, I believe the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts compared to other countries.  I find it interesting that the French mention that in order to be a good citizen one must know and participate in politics.  In the United States, many people are not concerned with knowing about politics.

I very much concur with Eduardo in that for many Americans, knowing about the political scene is not necessary to participate in it.  I believe that much of this stems from the polar nature of our political system, in which there is only (essentially) the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.  Many people simply vote along their party lines without much attention to the candidates.


I do not know much about the general political scene in France aside from the President and their involvement in the European/world political scene, but are French politics as polarized as American politics?  Are there only two competing sides to choose from?

I completely agree with Zachary. The two-party system causes some ignorance with respect to the actual candidates. I think a multi-party system is much better in that respect. In Germany, for example, there are currently 5 parties that hold seats in parliament and they are all different shades along the political spectrum. This causes a lot more political discussion and attention to what each party currently stands for. Granted there are still two "dominating" parties. However, the "dominating" parties rarely exceed the 35-40% mark. After a quick glance at the French parliament, I would say that the French system is somewhere in between the German and the American system, since the two big parties seem to be quite dominating (though the system may still be closer to the German system), but I would still be interested to hear from a French person what it is really like.

Sven a raison ! Il existe beaucoup de partis en France mais seuls deux partis ont réellement un poids et accède aux fonctions présidentielles. Par exemple, au dernière élections, il y avait en tout 10 candidats, représentant dix partis, au premier tour. Au second tour, c'est classiquement les socialistes pour la gauche et l'UMP pour la droite qui s'affrontent.

Il y a eu une seule fois un second tour différent qu'UMP vs PS, c'était en 2002 et le Front National (parti d'extrème droite) avait réussi à passer au deuxième tour. C'était notamment lié au fait que de nombreux partis de gauche s'étaient présentés et avait divisé d'autant les voix des électeurs de gauche.

Donc, même si nous n'avons que deux partis vraiment dominants, les autres ont aussi une importance, dans le sens où ils peuvent changer la répartition des voix. Et au second tour, quand certain partis, plus minoritaires, ont tout de même récolté un bon nombre de voix, les partis dominants modulent leurs propositions pour séduire et récupérer leurs électeurs.


Il y a aussi en France beaucoup d'abstention ! Mais certains partis réussissent parfois à mobiliser des électeurs en apportant une vision différente de la politique. Il existe une certaine lassitude du duo UMP/PS, beaucoup de personnes pensent qu'au final ils font la même chose ! C'est dans ce cadre là que les plus petits partis sont très importants !

I think something to consider here is that both the US and France have a democratic republic as their form of government. In that sense, all of us have similar roles in our country's government system; we have the right to vote, and, through voting, we are expressing our opinions on the current state of affairs.

I wonder what the responses would be like if their form of government was a monarchy, or something else. 

True, Paula, we both have democratic republics, but the nuances in our systems are important to understand. Morgane, I have a question. Is their an "protest vote"option on your ballot? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protest_vote Only in Nevada do voters have the None-of-the-Above option. Perhaps, if we had such an option, more people would vote to show their apathy for current candidates.


I like the French system of having two rounds of voting in the presidential election; with the first round narrowing the field to two top candidates. I'd like to know though, about how long is a typical French presidential election cycle? With primaries, our cycle stretches ~9 months...I think it's way too long. 

@Morgane: Thanks for the explanation. I have a question though. Given that there are two rounds of elections, how is parliament partitioned? Is this done in a separate election? Is the ruling party forced to form a coalition with a smaller party in order to secure a majority?

@Paula: I'm sort of with Melissa on this one. I think the nuances in the systems are very important. In the U.S., we are really limited to two parties. I don't really consider that democracy. It's more like picking the better of two evils, while often times neither party actually represents your views. I think the "protest vote" mentioned by Melissa is something that should be on all ballots.

I didn't know until now how different our two political systems are.  Has the French political environment always had 2 main parties and other smaller parties that are still represented?  Or is this a more recent occurence in the history of French politics?  


Although the political parties have changed over time, the American political system has pretty much had 2 dominating parties throughout its history.