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Rain check

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Tower of BabelSocietyLifestyle

With the final round of the French presidential elections and the early yet long-awaited Greek and Serbian parliamentary counterparts cropping up all on 6 May 2012, there's a variation in the number of citizens who are tempted to 'pass' on voting after the month of showers...

The past six months has seen a wide changing of the guard in the European union, what with a mix of technocratic and conservative leaders elected in Italy and Spain in late 2011, Finland in early 2012, and now France, Serbia and Greece on the same date, 6 May. Most young people polled informally by in Paris and Athens recently have said they'd be tempted to vote 'blank' or 'white', in an attempt to keep a distance from the re-election of unpopular president Nicolas Sarkozy, and the even less popular conservative new democracy and socialist pasok parties in Greece. In other words, they'd like to take a 'rain check'; 'next time', exasperated at the lack of 'renewal' that such an event would immediately bring in today's political climate.

The term is mostly used to describe a promise of a future date or appointment, when the current one has to be cancelled or postponed. 'Rain check' has its origin in early nineteenth century American baseball. People were given tickets for a game in the future because the one they wanted to attend was disrupted by rain. The French follow the sports suit, with the expression partie remise: a match has been cancelled and rescheduled for the future. The French commit to that promise, easing the disappointment of a cancelled date: 'ce n'est que partie remise'. For the punctual Germans, such an expression does not even exist. However that means should they be stood up without the promise of a rain check, they'd indeed be left standing in the rain (er/ sie hat mich im Regen stehen lasse).

Image: (cc) Paulgi/ flickr/; in-text © Henning Studte for 'Tower of Babel'/