It was the French presidential elections yesterday. I’m afraid politics in any language leaves me cold.
According to Wikipedia “As well as Presidential and legislative elections, France also has municipal, cantonal, regional, European, and (indirect) Senatorial elections.” Phew.
In general, you have to be a French citizen (aged 18 years or over) to vote, although EU citizens living in France are able to vote in the municipal and European elections but have to register separately for each.
Although we own property in France, we are not, and probably never will be, French citizens. Besides, residency and citizenship are two entirely different issues, but that’s a whole other headache I won’t get into now.
Voting in France is not compulsory (except for the Senate – the upper house – but that’s not a general public election. Only 150,000 grands électeurs get that right or should I say obligation.)
I guess it’s a bit head-in-the-sand of me, but I’m glad not to have to be bothered, but for those who are more politically savvy, here is a basic run-down of the main French elections (as far as I can understand them anyway!):
Elections always take place on Sundays.
Eléctions présidentielles, like yesterday’s, are held to choose the President. That I can understand! These are held every five years and normally take place over two election days (this year’s second round will be on May 6) unless there is an outright majority, that is, one candidate gaining over 50% of the votes. A president can serve a maximum of two five-year terms and gets to live in a palace in Paris! Nice.
Elections législatives follow shortly thereafter – this year on June 10th and 17th – when 577 députés of the l’Assemblée Nationale are voted in (i.e. members of the lower house) for a five-year term (unless dissolved earlier by the president).
Eléctions régionales are held to choose the regional council or Conseil Régional once every six years (e.g. for Centre, which is our region), and are based on a party politics (or party alliances). They are held for all of France’s 26 regions at the same time. The last éléctions régionales were held in March 2010, and (like the élections présidentielles) are held over two votes failing an outright majority.
Elections municipales elect the local council for the town or village (for us, Argenton-sur-Creuse) for a six-year term. At the town hall you will be given one voting list or many, according to some weird and wonderful rules linked into the size of the commune, and apparently someone who is not even on any of these lists could actually get voted in if enough people add their name! The elected council then votes for the mayor.
Well I think that’s quite enough of that for now…
One final language tip: you have to remember that the word for a politician is le politique (masculine) whether male or female (the French actively encourage women to enter politics these days, although it appears you have to be blond to get any votes, but let me get back to the point…), because the feminine version la politique means politics or policy.
It does my head in! I think I need a cup of tea.