Rightist Front National Takes Another Town

The wide-angle shot f the Ile St Louis

Hotly Contested Election
Closely Followed in Paris

by Ric Erickson

Metropole Paris:- Monday, 10. February 1997:- This is supposed to be my personal column, but late news takes precedence this week.

In voting for the second round of municipal elections last night, the ultra-nationalist Front National's candidate beat out the Socialist Party for the mayor's seat in the southern town of Vitrolles.

Last week, in the first round of a three-way race, Catherine Mégret won a commanding lead of 46.7 percent over the socialist candidate, out-going mayor Jean-Jacques Anglade who had 37 percent. The rightist UDF candidate got 18.3 percent and there was an abstention rate of 23.7 percent.

Last night, in a straight two-way race, Catherine Mégret of the Front National polled 52.4 percent. The abstention rate is not known at this time.

The election was hotly contested and closely followed by national party leaders. Both the mayor and the defeated UDF candidate have lodged protests in court over the FN conduct during the first round, and after the announcement of the results last night, the CRS anti-riot police had their hands full with overexcited supporters of both the winner and the loser.

President Chirac's RPR party did not take part in the election, but its members were reported to be handing out handbills on Saturday - the last day of the campaign - which cautioned voters against a 'socialist-communist' alliance, formed to mask the disastrous management of the town by the socialists, by pretending to be a barricade against the Front National.

France Lags Behind Hong Kong for Networks

I don't pay much attention to all the moaning about how France seems to be resisting getting 'wired' that one hears at all the non-stop network and computer salons and expos; partly because I've quit going to them.

But Friday's Libération has a chart that places France in slot number 20, the last on the list, and after Hong Kong. That Hong Kong is 19th surprised me too, and France outnumbers it for TV sets per 1,000 inhabitants and 160 to 150 for PCs. Hong Kong does have twice as many Internet servers as France and a lot more mobile phones, although it has about the same number of home phones.

Shoppers in front of Shakespeare & Co.

The only other country with the same number - two - of Internet servers is - Japan! Overall, Japan is in 16th place. Number one of course is the United States with 22 Internet servers per 1,000; but it is beaten by Finland with 43. The Fins also have more mobile phones than US residents, but fewer PCs and home phone lines, and a lot fewer TV sets. In all, the Scandinavian countries hold four of the top five spots and Canada is sixth.

Libération quotes Joël de Rosnay of the Cité des Sciences as saying the French accept being centrally governed, which is contrary to being networked. Maybe so, but what about the big families the French used to have? And from the numbers of people on the street you see using mobile phones, I wonder if the survey got that number right.

Birthday for Juliette Greco

It was on Friday Juliette Greco, still muse of Saint-Germain- des-Prés, and I am not going to be rude and give her age, except to say she was born in 1927. She is passing through Paris between Japan, galas in Germany, and may go to see a film she played in recently, in Austria. On Saturday night she presided at a gay ball at the Opéra Bastille, where she recommenced her youth yet again, after taking in a SOS Saint-Germain defense committee meeting last Tuesday. Happy birthday, Juliette!

The Days of the Paris Pages

From 17. March 1995 until January 1996, I reported about Paris events for Norman Barth's 'The Paris Pages - Les Pages de Costume for Mardi Gras Paris.' The original of the article included in this issue's feature about the American Ambassador, Pamela Harriman, can still be found at Norman's great Paris Web site, as well as all the other reports I did that year.

The events of May 1995 were particularly interesting as they included a dramatic May Day, the Presidential elections and the 50th Anniversary VE Day celebrations in Paris, and in remote suburbs such as Meudon.

This is the link to rest of the huge and interesting contents of 'The Paris Pages - Les Pages de Paris'. If you make a visit to the oldest Paris site on the Internet, be sure to let Norman know you stopped by.

Some New URLs

'Dreyfus' Goes On the Block, On-line. Paris auctioneer Maître Binoche intends to auction 130 lots relating to the 'Dreyfus Affair.' Between now and Tuesday, 18. February potential bidders can pre-register for 50 francs, which allows them to access the auction catalogue via the Web, see the estimates and propose a bid.

The highest bidder for each lot will be permitted to bid on all the lots on the occasion of the actual auction, which will be on Wednesday, 19. February. On-line bidders will be competing with bidders who are in the auction rooms at Drouot in Paris. Non-bidders will be able to follow the action via the Web. www.nart.fr

Napoléon Fans can now visit their hero on-line at a site that has been running since the beginning of the year. Put together by the Napoléon Foundation led by Baron Gourgaud, it may not yet be all you want to know about Napoléon and his times, but it is getting there with a certain amount of style and authority. www.napoleon.org.

Regards, Ric
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