While the cat's away.... follow up

Trip Start Feb 15, 2012
Trip End Sep 17, 2012

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What I did
Présidentielle élection booth

Flag of France  , Alsace,
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The people at the count are looking forward to reading about this night from an Aussie point of view. I hope you are not too disappointed. Gary is the real blogger/writer, but he wasn't there. So sorry, you'll have to wade through ......

Gary left giving me strict instructions not to go off with any strange Frenchman.. I did what I was told and although I spoke to a couple of other gents, it was a German man, Peter, who I passed some of Sunday with.

He had stopped to offer me a helping hand when I was trying to work out the info for the Bains Municipaux -  http://www.nageurs.com/fiches/piscine-les_bains_municipaux.html  - I was trying to photograph the opening hours, as there is a Kinésithérapeute next door and Gary might have to visit him/her.

Peter showed me into the building to get a list of their opening hours, and told me a little of the history- Ottoman design, much of it original though possibly not up to the standards one would expect in the new world. However, if you're a swimmer it is a most magnificent place to swim.

This was Sunday May 6, day of the election Présidentielle (Sarkozy v Hollande).  Peter was on his way to look in at the nearby polling station. We walked along and talked. Then we both went into the polling station.  Peter quietly explained quite a bit about how the system works whilst we observed.  He asked if I'd like to observe the counting of the vote at that station. WOW what an amazing privilege.  [Apparently it is not uncommon for locals to observe the counting.] I had intended to continue my early nights, but, it was quite a special invite and so, thinking of my friend from the constitutional centre in WA, I arranged to meet Peter, back at the baths at 7:45pm.

After this I did the Museum run, see MY previous post. And then did some Wiki research on french politics and ate dinner close to the meeting place.  [Chatting to Palajé who is married to his guitar and was quite impressed with my marriage ;)   ]

So - what did I learn:  (he = he/she  etc  and Queen = English Monarch);
There are many differences to Aussie voting.  To start with our 'president equivalent' is the Queen and represented in Australia by the Governor General. The GG is proposed by the Aust parliament, or maybe just the PM (not sure), and approved by the Queen.
The French President appoints the PM and also the ministers.  I assume from the elected reps. The French President has the power to appoint his parliament, but not to sack it. Therefore he must be careful to appoint ministers with similar policies to his. He has the power to authorise the use of nuclear weapons.

For the presidential elections there were a number of candidates in the first round.
France has a two rounds process. First round every candidate goes in.  The top two go to the  next round unless there is a 'winner'. ie one receives a very clear majority and more than 50% of the vote.  [check Wiki or your own sources if you want to be really accurate.] A few weeks later the vote is between the top two candidates.
The counting process at this booth involved about 9 people, of whom 6 were apparently associated in some way different political 'parties' - hope I've got that bit right?
I was extremely impressed with the range of ages at the table  and nearly fell off my seat when I learned afterward that the young man there was only 18 years old.
The voting process is -  there are  piles of white slips, each with a candidate's name on it, and blue envelopes. 
  • As a voter enters the polling station he takes an envelope and whichever slips he wants, one or many, and goes behind the curtain. There he places one slip in the envelope.
  • He then goes to the officials, shows his identifications, signs his name on the register and places his vote into the clear box.  At first I thought the 'blue' guy was a clear winner and it was not that private. But later I realised these were the envelopes I saw. 
  • Each voter can only vote at the place he is registered and only the details of those registered at that place are printed on the pages. 
  • After the polling closes the numbers are very carefully verified, the register against the number of envelopes.
  • The envelopes are separated into batches and then wrapped and signed off. 
  • The counting begins with one batch being opened, the envelopes opened, the informals etc registered and the slips separated into candidates.  These are then counted a couple of times and reconciled against the batch wrapping. 
  • The outcome of each bundle is recorded by a city employee.
  • The totals are checked and double checked.
  • The results are telephone through.
Being quite environmentally conscious the french will re-use the little blue envelopes for another election.

Strasbourg, I have heard, is more on the Sarkozy side, whereas most of France has voted for Hollande.

The election for other parts of the parliament will take place in about 2 months.

After the count was completed we said thank you and farewell.  The parties had begun.  

Wissembourg (?) you ask ! - well that was recommended by Philippe, so we stopped there on the way home from Frankfurt.  See MY last post.

I bet you're all relieved it's Gary who usually writes the blog.

Slideshow Report as Spam


Deanna on

Sandy - you are an excellent blog writer!!!

SJB on

Deanna, thank you.
Barbara, thanks for your comments too.
Peter, Thanks for the Macarons de Barthelemy. Yummy!!

SJB on

I forgot to mention that all advertising etc STOPS completely on the Friday (or maybe Saturday) before the election. Friday I think, because the outer territories cast their votes on Saturday, otherwise the results for mainland (metropolitan) France would be known before the votes are cast in New Caledonia etc. The lack of lobbying also includes at the polling places. No paper flyers suggesting how to cast your vote, no rubbish collecting around the place and best of all, no extraneous people in your way on the the way into and out of the polling place. Of course this would be a minor disaster in Australia, so many worthy charities - schools/scouts/guides etc use this opportunity to hold cakes stalls for raising money.

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