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US elections: Expat Iowans take part in Democrat caucus in Paris

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A placard reading « Iowa Caucus this way » hangs on a door, in Paris on Feb. 3, 2020. Paris is one of just three satellite caucus locations outside the U.S.
A placard reading « Iowa Caucus this way » hangs on a door, in Paris on Feb. 3, 2020. Paris is one of just three satellite caucus locations outside the U.S.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thibault Camus
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This was a caucus like Iowans had never seen before: voters from Egypt, Italy, the Netherlands and beyond descended on a town hall in France on Monday to choose their Democratic candidate for the 2020 election.

Some are serving at US military bases, some are studying in foreign capitals, and some had never met another Iowan abroad until Monday night.

Some used to vote Republican.

And they all loved being able to caucus outside Iowa for the first time, huddled in a municipal meeting room in Paris, up the street from the Louvre Museum.

Only 17 voters took part in the Paris caucus, so the result says little about the political direction of a state where some 200,000 people are expected to caucus overall Monday.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's corner drew the biggest crowd, putting her on top with eight votes, followed by Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg made it into the first round but didn't make the decisive final "alignment".

No one voted for former Vice President Joe Biden.

"When you look at the Democratic Party and then look here, you have people from all over coming here to vote in a Democratic Primary (election), and that shows not just the support for any singular candidate but the support for all of these candidates and how passionate people are to be involved in politics," Aaron Beckman, US military serviceman from Waterloo, Iowa, currently based in Cairo, told AP.

"And I think that regardless of who the candidate is, that passion is something that we need more of, we need more people who are passionate about politics," he added.

The voters erupted in frequent laughter, exchanged social media handles and begged for each others' votes.

They celebrated Midwest values and European public healthcare systems - and debated passionately about how best to beat Donald Trump in November.

They're all part of a new experiment aimed at making Iowa's unusual voting process more inclusive, by allowing caucuses outside the state.

Their votes will be added to the complex formula for allocating delegates among the Democratic candidates seeking their party's nomination.

The Paris caucus wrapped up with a Facetime call to Iowa Democratic Party headquarters to report the results, and hearty applause for the 20-year-old student who organised it all - and voted herself for the very first time.

Paris was one of just three satellite caucus locations outside the US, along with Glasgow in Scotland and Tbilisi in Georgia.