French Twitter Users Outsmart Election Law With Cheese, Flan References

Just how did the French manage to skirt a law prohibiting voting predictions in the first round of the presidential election?

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Dutch cheese, Hungarian wine, rotten tomato and flan were just a few buzzwords thrown around in the French Twitter community on Sunday, when users wittily tweeted in code to skirt a French law prohibiting voting predictions in the first round of the presidential election.

French election regulations ban anyone from leaking predictions before polls closed at 8 p.m., resulting in fines up to $100,000. In response, French Twitter users posted predictions and voting tallies using nicknames for the candidates to evade the attention of election officials appointed to monitor social networking sites for violations. They also paid homage to their past by using the hashtag #RadioLondres, a reference to codes broadcast from London’s BBC to resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, the AFP reports. “Tune in to #RadioLondres so as not to know the figures we don’t want to know before 8:00 pm,” the AFP reports of one ironic tweet.

(MORE:After Historic First Round Defeat, Sarkozy’s Re-Election Hopes Shrink Further)

Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, whose father is Hungarian, was associated with temperatures in Budapest in tweets, according to the New York Times, or called Rolex, a nod to his perceived love of luxury items. One tweet, linking his short stature to his unlikely victory said, “high-heeled shoes are going out of fashion.” Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate who narrowly won the first round, was often referred to as Gouda cheese, which is from Holland, or “Flanby,” a type of French custard and a sobriquet given to the frontrunner when he was much heavier.

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon was dubbed “tomato,” in reference to his Communist-backed party. Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, was aligned with totalitarian regimes, or in some cases, clever word plays on her name. One tweet read: “The sea temperature is 16 degrees. Global warming is indeed happening,” a maritime reference to her first name.

Last week, the state prosecutor in Paris vowed to prosecute anyone in breach of the law banning people from leaking predictions, and late Sunday the head of France’s polling commission asked for charges to be brought against violators. Many critics of the law call it antiquated in an age when results are easily obtainable in real-time. Neighboring media outlets in Switzerland and Belgium began publishing the election results as soon as they were available around 6:30 p.m. Paris time.

MORE: François Hollande: France Needs a Return to Fairness

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