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France: Blue Fingers and Tears of Joy as Tunisian Diaspora Vote

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisian Revolution 2011.

Tunisians living in France went to the polls today, ahead of the October 23 election in their country. Voters are giddy with joy and pride to vote freely and democratically, for the first time in 50 years and just nine months after the first of the Arab revolutions.

France is home to an estimated 600,000 Tunisians who have been exercising their right to make their voices heard in the make up of their new assembly, which will rewrite the country's constitution. Nearly 11,000 candidates, some amongst them Tunisian bloggers, are to contest 218 seats.

A good luck card published by Aly Ben J on Facebook to Tunisians voting abroad ahead of Tunisia

A good luck card published by Aly Ben J on Facebook to Tunisians voting abroad ahead of Tunisia

On the night before elections started in France, Myriam (@yezzyoufay) retweeted the hashtags that made history: the names of the Tunisian towns where the uprisings started earlier this year:

@yezzyoufay: Demain je vote. Merci #SidiBouzid #Thala #Rgueb #Kasserine #Kef #Gabes #Gafsa #Sfax #Bizerte La #Tunisie entière, les Tunisiens tous Unis.

@yezzyoufay: Tomorrow, I'll vote. Thank you, #SidiBouzid #Thala #Rgueb #Kasserine #Kef #Gabes #Gafsa #Sfax #Bizerte and all of #Tunisie, Tunisians united.

A total of 20,000 voters are expected to vote in the Tunisian Consulate in Paris from Thursday 20 to Saturday 22, October. Fears of a low turnout evaporated early this morning, when huge queues started forming in front of poll stations.

The crowd in front of the Tunisian consulate in Paris this morning. Image by @__imen on Twitter

The crowd in front of the Tunisian consulate in Paris this morning. Image by @__imen on Twitter

Rabaa Youssef [fr] commented on Facebook:

Ca n'arrive pas tous les jours de se dire: “magnifique cette file d'attente” :D

It's not everyday that one can says: “How magnificent is this waiting queue!” :D

Imen, a Phd candidate and herself a candidate on independent electoral list Saw Moskatel in France, had confessed in her electoral pledge [fr] a very common situation for Tunisians in the land of rigged votes:

Jusqu’à il y a quelques mois je pouvais me présenter en disant : “Bonjour je m’appelle Imen, j’ai 28 ans et je n’ai jamais voté en Tunisie ” Dur à admettre, mais c’est une réalité.”

Until a few months ago, I could introduce myself by those words : ‘Hello, my name is Imen, I am 28 and I have never voted in Tunisia”. Hard to believe, but it's a fact.

Today, as many first-time Tunisian voters, she posted a souvenir picture of herself and her ink-stained finger, the procedure chosen by the Tunisian electoral commission to avoid multiple votes and frauds.

"I've voted! I've voted!" Image by @imen_ on Twitter

"I've voted! I've voted!" Image by @imen_ on Twitter

Tunisian Twitter timelines in France  are now dotted with many more blue fingers.

"I've voted!" Image by @selim_ on  on Twitter

"I've voted!" Image by @selim_ on on Twitter

Maher (@mahertekaya) a union-trade delegate in France, just cannot wait:

I want to have my blue finger and I want it now :-( #tnelec

In Toulouse, scientist @mimouna [fr] is close to tears:

Jamais on aura été plus heureux et fiers de voir des doigts bleus :)

Never have we been so happy and proud to see inked-stained blue fingers :)

Emotions are running even higher in poll stations. Ness (@nessryne) [fr] confessed on Twitter, after casting her ballot:

J'ai commencé à pleurer, le président du bureau de vote, directeur régional d'une agence onusienne, a commencé à pleurer aussi ! #TneElec

I started to cry, and the president of the poll station, who is a regional manager for a UN agency, started to cry as well! #TneElec

Amal (@AmalHaouet) a volunteer manning a polling station, has seen many more tears as voting proceeds:

Il faut prévoir des mouchoirs aux sorties des bureaux de vote :) #tnelec

We'll have to provide boxes of tissues on the way out of the polling stations:) #tnelec

Tunisian tweeps watching from Tunisia are enthralled:

@zeineb_ak: les photos prises devant le consulat de Paris me donnent la chair de poule !!! vivement le #23Octobre :))#TnElec

@zeineb_ak: Pics taken in front of the Tunisian consulate in Paris give me goosebumps!!! Can't wait for #23Octobre :))#TnElec

@HFadhel, a computer engineer fresh out of the polling station, paid hommage:

Une journee memorable .. Et une grande pensee a ceux qui ont donne leurs vies pour nous faire vivre ce moment historique #tnelec #tunisie

A mémorable day…and a huge thought for those who gave their lives so that we could live this historical moment #tnelec #tunisie

Tunisians voters in France and abroad will continue to vote until Saturday, October 22.

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisian Revolution 2011.

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