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France would have fined you €75,000 if you retweeted this account

France’s stringent rules about election exit polling means a hefty fine for anyone who even retweets polling data.

AS YOU MAY have noticed, there was little news of any exit polls from France’s presidential election until 7pm Irish time last night – the very moment the polls closed.

This is because France has stringent laws on the sharing of exit poll data – with the idea being that it could heavily prejudice an election if its results became known before the last voters had filled out their ballot papers.

Business Insider found this quote from the New York Times:

Until 8 p.m. Sunday, election day, when the last polling places close in the first round of voting, the country’s 10 presidential candidates may not give speeches or interviews, distribute fliers or update their campaign Web sites or Facebook pages.

And no media outlet, pollster or citizen is to publish voting data of any kind — no leaked exit polls, no hints on Twitter — on pain of a fine of up to 75,000 euros, or $99,000.

This is why there was such a shortage of data coming from France – with most of the news being drawn from broadcast media in Belgium, or from other clandestine sources – like this particular Twitter account.

@2012resultats picked up a decent slew of followers for its comprehensive tweeting of results as they came in. The account says it’s run from New Zealand, and has a NZ-hosted blog – which it says is to “demonstrate the absurdity of the law governing the election results”.

It was a handy source of data before the formal exit poll results were announced – but if anyone from France retweeted any of its posts, like the one below (which was out 50 minutes before the formal results), they’d be asked to pay for it.

Read: Hollande in the lead ahead of run-off vote with Sarkozy

More: L’explainer: The candidates and issues in the French presidential election

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Gavan Reilly

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