EXPLAINED: The very precise rules of French election billboards

Villages, towns and cities across France have suddenly sprouted a number of large temporary metal billboards - but what are they, where did they come from and what happens next?

EXPLAINED: The very precise rules of French election billboards
Size, location and event colours - the rules on election posters are strict in France. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

It’s regional election time in France – voters head to the polls on June 20th and again on June 27th. Up for grabs are seats and control of the regional councils in metropolitan and overseas France – including the Corsican Assembly, Assembly of French Guiana and Assembly of Martinique – for the next six years.

The billboards are a vital part of the election process. They will pop up again next year for the Presidential elections and at every municipal, regional and European election.

READ ALSO Five minutes to understand: The 2022 French presidential election

They’re for election posters and France has some strict and extremely precise rules on election publicity material. 

The boards are installed by the local authority outside voting stations a few weeks prior to the first round of voting. Each candidate, pair of candidates or list of candidates, in the election is allocated an equal space on these boards for election posters.

In order to be completely fair, the ordering of space for candidates on the boards is decided by a draw – in the regional elections, this draw takes place in the préfecture.

Town halls can install billboards at other locations, too. The maximum number of billboards per town is fixed according to the number of voters.

Candidates can also use free posting (affichage libre) spaces around town during the campaign period and in the six months leading up to the election.

According to the Electoral Code, candidates who put their posters outside these legally sanctioned areas or periods risks a fine, and their posters can be taken down. 

The panels must be large enough to allow for the correct display of at least: a small poster measuring 297mm x 420mm and a large poster measuring 594mm x 841mm.

In the case of a second round of voting, the posters of candidates no longer involved in the ballot should be removed by the Wednesday between ballots.

French candidates and parties receive limited public subsidies to cover expenses in their election poster campaigns. Funding is always provided after each election round, in the form of reimbursements for incurred expenses. 

There are also rules on allowable colours in posters – for example: the French bleu-blanc-rouge combination is not permitted unless they are the colours of the party logo. They should not be printed on white paper, unless they include writing or colour pictures.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French film stars cut hair in support of Iran protests

Video shows several big-name French movie stars cutting their own hair in protest

French film stars cut hair in support of Iran protests

French film stars, including Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche and Marion Cotillard, have cut locks of their hair in an Instagram video published on Wednesday in solidarity with women protesters in Iran.

Charlotte Rampling and Jane Birkin, two stars with close ties to France, also appeared in the video.

It came a day after more than 1,000 French film professionals, including actor Lea Seydoux and Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux, signed a petition “supporting the revolt by women in Iran”.

Women removing their headscarves and cutting their hair has been a key image of the protests in Iran that broke out last month.

They were sparked by the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, following her arrest by Iran’s “morality police” who enforce Iran’s strict dress code that requires women to cover their hair in public.

“The Iranian people, with women in front, are risking their lives to protest. These people want only the most basic freedoms. These women, these men, deserve our support,” said a message accompanying the video on Instagram.

The campaign was launched by a group of lawyers.

“It is impossible not to denounce, again and always, this terrible repression,” their message added.