Miss France Chosen – Tahiti Cries ‘Foul’

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The Tahitian delegation are far from content after what they cite as gross irregularities in how the electronic votes were counted

Millions of television viewers across France tuned in and voted last weekend to see 19-year-old Flora Coquerel crowned Miss France. The 19-year-old from Orleans, whose mother is from the West African state of Benin, was a popular choice – a beauty with brains, it seems and a mixed racial heritage representative of modern-day France.

The victory was tainted with controversy, however. In a far-flung corner of France, some are not so happy. The paradise island of Tahiti had also produced its own dusky maiden – Mehiata Rhara – who was tipped by many to win the contest. She finished in second place according to the official result but it has been claimed that both candidates didn’t contest under the same conditions at all and that Miss Tahiti should have won the beauty pageant comfortably.

Runner-up Miss Tahiti - not on the same playing field as Miss Orleans

Runner-up Miss Tahiti – not on the same playing field as Miss Orleans

According to Marcel Tuihani, spokesperson for the Tahitian government on the digital economy, almost 125,000 “attempted calls” were made from French Polynesia to mainland France, but “only 8,431” of those calls were taken into account. During the final vote-off between the top two candidates at the end of the evening, 13,800 attempted calls became just 7,500 votes taken into account by the television station TF1 that was running the show. The minister says that his source of information comes from local telephony company OPT.

TF1 issued a statement in response, saying that all the calls made from Polynesia, mainland France and elsewhere were all counted in the correct order, Orange Business Services did their job correctly in accordance with the correct regulations and under the supervision of bailiff Mr Simonin. “There was, therefore, no anomaly in the execution of the election of Miss France on Saturday last.”

The Tahitians were out of luck, it seems, as they couldn’t send in an SMS vote, unlike all the other French regions who could. This was because of a bug discovered in the system last year that didn’t count all the Tahitian text votes. In any case, the television station absolves itself of any technical error that is beyond their control, so the result remains and Miss Orleans will be Miss France for the coming year.

Below: Video from BFMTV showing Miss France being presented with her crown and saying in an interview how her mixed-race heritage is important to her.

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