Ballotage with Etymological origin and history


In democratic systems, elections for president and governor have several systems or procedures. One of them is ballottage, a term that comes from the French verb batoller, which means “elected by vote” (it should be noted that in the past, the French used a different colored sticker or ballote to identify each candidate’s vote). When translating ballotage into Portuguese, we can use another name: second round.

When, in the context of presidential elections, none of the candidates presented manages to overcome the majority of votes by the citizens, the two with the highest number of votes return to compete for the second time.

Ballotage is a term that derives from the French word ballottage . The notion refers to the second vote that takes place in certain electoral systems, in which voters must choose between the two candidates who received the most votes in the first round. The ballotage is an electoral institution that belongs to French law, in its constitutional and electoral branches.

Also called the second round , the ballotage takes place when none of the candidates for public office reach the minimum number of votes required or the difference with their opponents required by electoral law. In this way, the two most voted go to this second electoral round, while the other candidates are no longer part of the process . Citizens, therefore, can only choose in the ballot between the two most voted candidates in the previous instance.

As a curious fact, we must point out that the original French language term, ballottage , derives from a verb that can be translated as “vote using balls” ( ballotter ).

Etymological origin

The word comes from the French “ballottage”, a term currently accepted in many Spanish-speaking countries, due to its application in the electoral field. Grammatically, it comes from Balota and ballotage. According to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, this last word of the verb ballotter means to vote with ballotets, little balls (ballots) that some religious communities use to vote.

A bit of history about the ballotage

In 1852, the French Emperor Napoleon III established an electoral mechanism called “ballottage” or double electoral round system. It consisted of requiring those who aspired to hold an elective position, to agree with the absolute majority of the valid votes cast. If this circumstance did not occur, a new complementary election had to be held, limited to the two candidates with the most votes in the first round.

This system, originating from the Second French Empire, was later taken over by the successive French republics. Currently it is still in force in the Vª French Republic, by virtue of the constitution of October 5, 1958, to elect the President of the Republic

The person who introduced the second round in Argentina for the first time, in 1972, was the de facto president, General Alejandro Agustín Lanusse, who repealed the 1949 constitution, restoring the direct election for president and vice president established in the 1853 Constitution.

However, this electoral system took a long time to be applied in presidential elections. In fact, it was only applied on November 22, 2015, when Mauricio Macri prevailed over Daniel Scioli with 51.34% of the votes.

In 2003, strictly speaking, there was the possibility of being used for the first time. In those elections, Carlos Saúl Menem and Néstor Kirchner were the two most voted presidential candidates. However, the second round never took place because the former La Rioja president decided to abandon the electoral contest since the previous polls assured him of a resounding defeat.

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