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Briton ruled out of council vote

Votes for candidate's list are ruled null and void as there was no indication of nationality on ballot paper

A British candidate in a municipal election in Languedoc-Roussillon was eliminated from the first round - because the ballot paper did not declare her nationality.

A change in regulation at the end of last year requires all non-French EU candidates to list their nationality alongside their names on the lists. French nationals do not have to list their nationality, only foreigners.

Kerry Lanfrey, a candidate at Pignan in Hérault (34), said: "We didn't realise this until nearly the end of voting last Sunday when the incumbent maire suddenly announced that all votes for our entire list would be nullified because I and another (Belgian) candidate had not marked our nationalities on the ballot papers.

"French people don't have to declare their nationality so the requirement is extremely discriminatory.

“Also, we feel that because she announced that she was cancelling the list before the voting was finished, the vote was skewed. We got 37-38% but we might have got more if our list had not been cancelled late in the day.

“The decision is being appealed.

"I feel an incredible sense of injustice that such a large proportion of the vote can be discounted just because four words were missing on a piece of paper."

At Pignan Mairie, head of services Frédéric Gerbier said the law was clear: "All non-French EU candidates must state their nationality. This is the third reason on a list of 19, of reasons to declare votes null.

“This information was displayed in the voting hall during the voting. The reason for this requirement is that voters need to know that non-French candidates cannot become the mayor or deputy-mayor (adjoint) and they cannot vote for senators.

"The bulletins could have been altered to include the missing information at any time up until the beginning of voting. As for why this mistake was not noticed before, I cannot say.

“An opposition candidate noticed this mistake towards the end of voting and asked that the votes be cancelled, and this was done in accordance with the law."

The same thing happened in Argeliers in Aude (11) where a Spanish woman was included on Gilles Laur's (opposition) list but her nationality was not marked on the ballot papers.

As a result the list's 621 votes were cancelled and the incumbent mayor's 606 votes were counted. Gilles Laur is also appealing the decision.

All EU Member States are required to allow resident EU citizens to run in and vote in local elections. But the requirement to state a non-French candidate's nationality on the ballot papers is purely French.

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