Sunday, April 22, 2007

Vote for me

Today France voted for its president. France gives its president real power, unlike many other states, where the prime minister is the key figure. Far from being a figurehead, the French leader chooses the prime minister, can dissolve parliament and can pardon convicted criminals. The president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, including a formidable nuclear arsenal. The sort of kick ass job that I would really like. Anyway, I popped down to the foyer to see how the system works. Every person, eligible to vote, has a personal voting card issued by the state, which they keep, and which they must show to the voting officials, in our case the village council members. This card is reconciled with an official state list and which entitles each voter to a small blue envelope. You vote by selecting a slip from one of the twelve piles of presidential hopefuls, put this name in the envelope and place your envelope in a perspex box. Your voting card is stamped, and you keep it as your personal voting record and then you sign the 'official list.' That's it. At 18.00 the slips were counted and the results were collected regionally and nationally. Because there are over 36,000 mayors in France (the counting process being broken into manageable pieces) the final result was known after 20.00. It appears to be a very efficient system. Because no candidate achieved 50% of the vote, the leading two have a 'vote off' in early May. What was particularly interesting was that 85% of voters turned out to vote.

No comments: