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Twitter’s Hilarious Subversion of French Election Law

Twitter’s Hilarious Subversion of French Election Law

British, Australian and maybe some American readers may recall a long-running comedy from the eighties ‘Allo ‘Allo. Set in wartime France, it was about the Secret Army, dropped in by parachute to aid the resistance. It made hay out of language difficulties and featured constant comedy accents, the classic line which has stuck most of all comes from the young undercover officer Crabtree’s constant mangling of French, as in ‘good moaning.’

I was reminded of ‘Allo ‘Allo (and also of what the Chinese are doing right now in their microblogs) when reading of how French Twitter users got around a rather dated election law forbidding early release of election results.

For the two hours before the official release of results at 8pm, French tweeters resorted to the most imaginative and hilarious methods to convey the first round of the Presidential election, which had been already been published in Britain, Belgium and elsewhere.

Using the hashtag #radiolondres (Charles DeGaulle broadcast during World War Two from London on the radio station, it would broadcast coded messages to the French resistance), tweets were coded as in ‘Hungary’ (Sarkozy’s father was from there) and ‘Netherlands’ (as in his Socialist nemesis Francois Hollande) or ‘Fouquet’s’ (an expensive restaurant that’s a Sarkozy favourite) or ‘rosée’ (in French, the rose being the Socialist party’s symbol).

Thus:

Le ciel bleu se couvre. La rosée perle sur le jardin. #RadioLondres — Guillaume Champeau (@gchampeau) April 21, 2012

(“The blue sky becomes overcast. The rose settles on the garden.”)

One much mocked Sarkozy poster had him standing in front of the sea with the logo “La France Forte.” Hence:

#RadioLondres La vague est montée mais il a toujours pied, je répète, la vague est montée mais il a toujours pied… — Didier Porte (@DidierPorte) April 22, 2012

(“The wave is high, but he is still in his depth. I repeat, the wave is high, but he is still in his depth.”)

Also mocked was Sarkozy’s height and how he deals with it …

Les talonnettes sont dans les cartons je répète les talonnettes sont dans les cartons #radiolondres — Xavier Frison (@xfrison) April 21, 2012

(“The lifts of his shoes are packed. I repeat, the lifts are packed.”)

The left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon is a (red, of course) tomato. He was expected to do well, but …

La tomate est moins mûre qu’attendue. Il a trop plu. #RadioLondres — Guillaume Champeau (@gchampeau) April 22, 2012

(“The tomato is riper than expected. It rained too much.”)

This one neatly gives the actual numbers:

Apparemment la météo mondiale donne : 27° à Amsterdam, 26° à Budapest, 17° à Nuremberg, 14° à Cuba et 10° à Pau #RadioLondres — Hedia (@Hedia) April 22, 2012

(“It seems the weather looks like 27C in Amsterdam, 26C in Budapest, 17C in Nuremberg, 14C in Cuba and 10C in Pau.”)

Nuremberg being where the Nazis held their rallies, and referring to Marie LePen, leader of the far-right Front National, and whose record high vote is definitely no joke.

Perhaps in the face of that scary result, some mockery of her on Twitter might not go amiss. Mockery like that which resulted when the leader of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) decided to launch the hashtag #creepingsharia. It didn’t take long for the mockery to begin:

can’t get a decent bacon sandwich at camden food company #creepingsharia vsb.li/5vACv8

Muslamic bloke walked past on tiptoes #creepingsharia

Today I am wearing a long skirt over jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. #creepingsharia

Anders Breivik shaves his moustache and keeps the beard. #CreepingSharia

You can’t say EDL without saying “Eid” #creepingsharia

Not allowed alcohol with my antibiotics #creepingsharia

Twitter plus satire, a fantastic combination.

Related stories:

Sarkozy Makes Overtures to Far Right in France

Update: #tomyunbornchild Births Moving Pro-Gay Message (Video)

5 Ways Electronic Gadgets Are Ruining Your Brain

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13 comments

+ add your own
8:09PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Some of the translations given leave a lot to be desired. "La rosee perle sur le jardin" refers not to roses but to dew, glistening like pearls on the garden. "La tomate est moins mure..." means the tomato is LESS ripe than expected. And the name of the leader of the Front National is Jean-Marie Le Pen, not Marie Le Pen, which makes him no less horrible.

8:06PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Some of the translations given leave a lot to be desired. "La rosee perle sur le jardin" refers not to roses but to dew, glistening like pearls on the garden. "La tomate est moins mure..." means the tomato is LESS ripe than expected. And the name of the leader of the Front National is Jean-Marie Le Pen, not Marie Le Pen, which makes him no less horrible.

5:31PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

The problem with Twitter and satire is that it makes one take the officials less seriously. Okay, maybe you don't want to take them seriously, but they've jobs to do.

1:37PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

"Ah Ha! Ils ne connaissent que l'anglais! Ils sont Américains!"

"Ah Ha! They only know English! They're Americans!

1:26PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

ah well

9:27AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Leave it to the kids - they do find ways to get done what they want to get done.

9:16AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

I don't get it; perhaps I AM getting too old to understand this technology.

Any teenagers out there want to give me a lesson, LOL?

8:47AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

merci pour les souvenirs

8:05AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Thank you for the article...

4:58AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Still prefer Peter Sellers' "Have you get a rheum?". Ok, nothing to do with Allo Allo and French electoral laws. Alizée for president!

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