The second round of the French presidential election was a convincing victory for Emmanuel Macron who won 66 percent of the vote compared to Marine Le Pen’s 34 percent.
However, those figures ignore the unusually high number of abstentions – 26 percent of the electorate – and blank and spoiled votes – almost 9 percent of the total.
To put it another way, more than 16 million people either abstained or cast their ballots in this way – in second place behind Macron’s 21.7 million votes, but well ahead of Le Pen’s 10.6 million.
The turnout was the lowest for the second round of a presidential election since 1969. Partly this reflected hostility to the far-right candidate; it also underscored a certain aversion to the winning candidate – seen as too right-wing by many on the left, too left-wing among the right.
The number of blank and spoiled votes was historically high – well above the 5.8 percent in the second round in 2012, the 4.2 percent in 2007, and even the six percent in 1995.
Not all these “protest” voters cast their ballots quietly: plenty recorded their act with their phones and let the world know via Twitter. Others came to light via observant officials counting the votes who saw the funny side. Below is a selection of examples.
While there was nostalgia for elections past, there were also ironic expressions of love (contempt?) for today’s candidates.
En voilà un qui vote avec amour pour le ni-ni à— katia cazot (@KCazot) May 7, 2017
fontaine38600</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/LeDL_Grenoble">LeDL_Grenoble pic.twitter.com/0VOybm60t1
UnionArdennais</a> et un hop un bulletin Emmanuel le pen lors du dépouillement à <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Soissons?src=hash">#Soissons</a> <a href="https://t.co/IjDmJMFuGG">pic.twitter.com/IjDmJMFuGG</a></p>— Stéphane Massé (Stefmass) May 7, 2017
“Faire barrage” has become a political slogan meaning to join together to block a certain candidate – usually a Le Pen, be it Marine in 2017 or her father in 2017. The words literally mean “make a dam”, hence the above drawing…
A Grenoble encore!!!! Bulletins nuls
LeDL_Grenoble</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Presidentielle2017?src=hash">#Presidentielle2017</a> <a href="https://t.co/DOVUuXuAFj">pic.twitter.com/DOVUuXuAFj</a></p>— Eve Moulinier (EveMoulinier) May 7, 2017
While someone scrawled “only kidding” below Marine Le Pen’s name, there were plenty of statements from supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, disappointed that the leftist candidate failed to reach the run-off…
Bulletin vu au depouillement ce soir .#Gennevilliers
JLMelenchon</a> <a href="https://t.co/BklkZcIg3c">pic.twitter.com/BklkZcIg3c</a></p>— 🌿GregoryBoulord φ🔻 (gregou44) May 7, 2017
#Mélenchon a la cote a #Sarry … même pour le 2nd tour ! #Pres51 #Chalons
UnionArdennais</a> <a href="https://t.co/uKanzLgYkl">pic.twitter.com/uKanzLgYkl</a></p>— Charlotte Boulon (ChaaBln) May 7, 2017
Others expressed what they thought of the candidates on offer in almost slapstick fashion…
Chouette, j’ai eu le droit à un petit lapin #Pres51 #Chalons #Présidentielle2017
UnionArdennais</a> <a href="https://t.co/HD5QMZKXjt">pic.twitter.com/HD5QMZKXjt</a></p>— Gauthier Hénon (gth_henon) May 7, 2017
Photo : le dépouillement et avec ses pépites … pic.twitter.com/pea6KOOdFv— Thorel Thierry (@Thierry_thorel) May 7, 2017
VDN Dunkerque (@VDNDunkerque) May 7, 2017
The best? Vote for the tumble-drier, the above caption suggests – it’s the only one which sticks to its programme.