Occasions to laugh or smile have been few and far between during the current French presidential election campaign, which has been obsessed with recession, unemployment, xenophobia. But today, April 22, 2012, as French voters elect two runner-up among ten candidates, they are finally having electoral fun on Twitter under the hashtag #RadioLondres [all links in French].
The French electoral code enforces a Euro 75,000 (US $99,000) fine for violation of the confidentiality of the results and has dispatched 10 official “censors” to monitor the Web and enforce the ban until the official result time, 8 PM local time (GMT+1), despite the fact that neighbouring countries Switzerland and Belgium can communicate preliminary results whenever they please online.
The ban unleashed a mischievous hashtag on French language Twitter: #RadioLondres.
Netizens are having a field day tweeting insider news and fantasy results via secret codes and riddles, as the French Resistance daily radio used to do from London during World War II to coordinate sabotages and secret operations.
On 18 April, Guillaume on Twitter was among the first to set the rules of this game:
@Guillaumechampaud: On va se faire un code. “Le flan est au four” ça veut dire Hollande au 2nd tour. “La tomate est mûre”, ça veut dire Mélenchon.
Soon after, a mysterious tweet appeared, and was widely retweeted.
@xfrison: Les talonnettes sont dans les cartons. Je répète, les talonnettes sont dans les cartons #radiolondres
Guessing when Sarkozy is concerned – as in this tweet – is easy for the French: they know their president's minute stature, his taste for Rolex watches, yachts, and his Hungarian origin.
The socialist contender, François Hollande (his surname means “Netherlands” in French) is often linked to cheese-based riddles, to a pedal boat (in reference to a snide comment made by another candidate, Mélenchon, on Hollande's campaign), or to a French brand of custard, Flanby.
Marine le Pen, the extreme right candidate, can be identified as “The Flame” (her party logo) or allusions to Brittany (her family region) and fish.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a far left candidate, has very “red” nicknames, such as “cherry” or “redbreasted robin”.
On Twitter, Gabriel is pushing his candidate:
@Gabriel_Hussy: #radiolondres Le pédalo remonte le fleuve, je répète le pédalo remonte le fleuve…
Some call on wine buffs culture, linking candidates to their native region:
@Borislaffargue: #RadioLondres A l'heure de l'apéritif! Malibu Orange (29%/vol), Kir Royal (21%/vol), Beaujolais (18%/vol), Schnaps (16%/vol), Jurançon (8%)
Frederic tuned in on Twitter from the French Caribbean, where voters voted ahead of France:
@FredericHelbert: sous les cocotiers, ou ds la franz lointaine, la température atteint les 30 à 40° degrés sur baromètre des pays-bas..#RadioLondres
Zineb dishes culinary tips:
@Zineb_borja: #RadioLondres Mes voisins qui aiment les frites viennent de me dire que le fromage est le meilleur suivi du goulasch.
Cyril has wardrobe access:
@Cestsidoux Le nain chausse toujours du 26. Je repete, le nain chausse toujours du 26
Rafik is cautious about Hollande's chances in the second round, on 6 May:
@RafikSmati: Flanby expiration date is 5/5
Olivier is nearly worried by the craze:
@Luisetti: Twitter surchauffe le TweetWall Pro l'hashtag #radiolondres produit 62000 tweets/mn exposés à 18600000 followers-
And Jibinho spares a thought for the official “censors”, on duty until 8 PM:
@Jibinho Une pensée émue pour les 10 censeurs chargés de surveiller la toile jusqu'à 20h. #radiolondres