Madame Mégret Tells All to Berliner Zeitung

This week's Paris Bistro

Long March, Visitor Permit,
Funny Money and 'March Beer'

Paris:- Saturday, 1. March 1997:- Last Saturday evening, while Parisians were all either participating in anti-government demonstrations or watching them on television, 4,500 hardy souls set off on a walk from Paris to Mantes, in Yvelines.

From Boulogne, the distance is 55 kilometres. This was the 68th edition of this overnight walking 'party' and according to the report in Monday's Le Parisien, the 81 steps at Saint-Cloud are the hardest part of the entire excursion. The same can be said for the autoroute tunnel at Saint-Cloud; it is a veritable 'eye-of-the-needle' for drivers heading west, or coming the other way to work in the mornings.

The 'Paris-Mantes' is one of the sporting events for which there appears to be no champions; only aid from the Croix-Rouge, which had 14 ambulances and two portable hospitals available for contestants.

The 'Staying-With-Friends' Permit

Le Parisien said in its Monday editions that Saturday's demonstration march in Paris against the proposed law, was a success as far as participation went - and ran a large photo showing a great many people filling the place de le République - which the authorities apparently claimed was only one-third full.

LCI TV-news 25.02.97/Paris

As the text of the law - known as the 'Loi Debré' - was debated in the National Assembly on Tuesday, protesters responding to calls for action by 80 organizations, again took to the streets of Paris as well as other important cities around France. Action sequences shown on TV-news midday Wednesday, showed the demonstrators retreating from police forces, who are generally well-equipped for such events.

In the National Assembly itself, the atmosphere was described as 'electric' as all the seats were filled by deputies for the debate. On Wednesday evening, an amendment to the proposed law, passed by a wide majority. This amendment moves the responsibility of the administration of the LCI TV-news 25.02.97/Toulouse 'Certificats d'Hébergement' from local town halls to the district administrative level - to the Prefecture.

With minor amendments, the law was passed by 113 votes to 61, Thursday night. The next step in the legislative process will see the text of the law being examined by the Senat, where it is expected to arrive on 6. March. If it is passed there, then the Constitutional Council will take a look at it to see if it conforms to the constitution.

'Cat' Escapes from Front National Bag

Newly elected mayor of the southern town of Vitrolles, Catherine Mégret of the extreme-right Front National party, had a little chat with journalists from the Berliner Zeitung recently - I assume late last week - and the resulting interview was published in the Berlin daily's Monday editions.

Somebody - Jean-Marie Le Pen, Monsieur Mégret, or both? - forgot to tell the lady mayor that some of the deeper thoughts of the party are not for public consumption - as they sound as if they had been thought up by Joseph Goebbels or Hermann Göring. The editors of the Berliner Zeitung even went so far as to apologize for printing the interview.

Madame Mégret is, by her own words, not a politician - and stood for municipal office only because her husband, number two in the party, was unable to on account of past election irregularities.

One sample, when asked what she planned to do in Vitrolles, she replied:

"We will stop all state aid to immigrants and give the money to the French. Our slogan is: the French first. Unfortunately, there are some grants that we must continue paying to immigrants; but we won't pay a centime more. You'll see how fast they'll get out of here, because they're only here for the money."

"And if we could, at municipal level, we would look at some of naturalization files of people running around with French passports. ou've got to understand, that in France we're living with an emergency situation. For this reason we have to act quickly. LCI TV-news 25.02.97/ToulouseWe will also cut off state aid to local immigrant and leftist organizations, because they simply don't have any right to it."

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