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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

France's 2012 presidential election campaign begins - officially

Yes it might seem like a rather strange headline given that the French have been bombarded with politics for the best part of a couple of months (and more) now.

But campaigning in the two-round presidential elections has now officially begun with television advertising spots and posters on approved local authority notice boards up and down France.

Local authority notice boards - ready for posters (screenshot BFM TV)

And the rules are very strict - if somewhat antiquated.

As far as TV spots go, each of the ten candidates has a fixed amount of airtime - 43 minutes in total - rigorously enforced and controlled by the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA), the country's broadcast watchdog.

The contents of what they can and can't talk about during their allotted 18 slots is also subject to the most "polite" and perhaps anachronistic rules with no banging the drum for donations allowed and an interdiction on "denigrating opponents".

Broadcasters have already had to provide equal airtime to all 10 candidates no matter how big or small since the wise men on the Conseil constitutionnel (Constitutional council) validated their eligibility to stand back on March 19.

Posters, which started appearing on most local authority notice boards on Tuesday, are also subject to the most stringent of rules.

They mustn't be printed on a white background because that's only reserved for official announcements, and woe betide candidates who try to use any combination of red, white and blue, the colours of the French tricolore. It's against the rules and if broken will result in a fine.

French presidential election 2012 posters - against the rules (screenshot BFM TV)

And those posters - two for each candidate - are only allowed to appear on the notice boards put in place the local authority specifically for the election - although that's not always a rule to which party supporters adhere.

The French can also expect to hear pamphlets and letters plopping through their letter boxes as the postal campaign to woo the 45 million registered voters is now also allowed, but again size and format have to be the same for each candidate.

And as "officially" as the campaigning starts, so it will midnight on April 21, the day before the election, together with a ban on candidates making public statements and opinion polls being published.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was in France during the last presidential election, and I watched with much amusement how antiquated indeed the French political system is. Hours before Sarkozy was declared the winner of the election (around 8pm I believe), I had surfed the internet and read foreign press websites (in Belgium, Switzerland and the UK), and they all indicated Sarkozy appeared to be winning. But nothing was being said on French TV or radio.

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