Reader question: What is a vote blanc?

With France preparing to cast its vote, what does it mean to have a 'white vote'?

Reader question: What is a vote blanc?
Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

Question: In the context of French elections I often hear people talking about a ‘vote blanc’ – what is this? Is it the same as spoiled ballots?

Un vote blanc is one of those French phrases that is pretty much exactly what it says – a blank vote – but describes a particular French tradition.

In French the word blanc or blanche can mean white, but also null or void, like une saison blanche (a void or forfeit season) or une nuit blanche (a sleepless night).

Voting is not compulsory in France, so come election time voters have the choice to simply stay away from the polls if they don’t feel enthused about any of the candidates on offer.

But there is also the option of casting a vote blanc. This involves going to the polling station, taking the ballot paper, ticking none of the candidates on offer and then sealing the paper in its envelope and posting it into the ballot box.

Unlike abstention – which can be down to a number of factors including political disengagement and sheer laziness – or spoiled ballot papers (referred to as votes nuls) – which can done by accident or misunderstanding – a vote blanc makes a clear statement that you have examined all of the candidates standing and are impressed by none of them.

At each count, the number of votes blanc is recorded along with the number of votes cast for each candidate.

This topic is one of a number of questions that we tackle in the latest issue of The Local’s podcast Talking France. If you have a question on aspect of French politics or elections, get in touch at [email protected]

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France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

The French government aims to have its natural gas storage reserves at full capacity by autumn, with European countries bracing for supply cuts from major supplier Russia as the Ukraine war continues, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Thursday

France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

“We are ensuring the complete filling of our storage capacities, aiming to be close to 100 percent by early autumn,” and France will also build a new floating methane terminal to receive more energy supplies by ship, Borne said.

France is much less dependant on Russian gas than its neighbours, and announced earlier this week that it has not received any Russian gas by pipeline since June 15th.

Meanwhile Germany moved closer to rationing natural gas on Thursday as it raised the alert level under an emergency plan after Russia slashed supplies to the country.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference.

French PM Borne on Thursday also confirmed that the bouclier tarifaire (price shield) will remain in pace until the end of 2022 – this freezes the price of household gas and limits rises in electricity bills for homes to four percent.