'Snap' National Election Expected
to be Called Monday in France

Chez Paul, rue de Charonne
Chez Paul, rue de Charonne, Paris 11.

After Changing Jails
Bernard Tapie Goes to Work

Paris:- Saturday, 19. April 1997:- This morning, radio France-Info was blaring out the news that President Jacques Chirac is seriously thinking of calling a snap national election, and this has the news world in a tizzy because they get the whole weekend to think it over.

The latest is, the President is scheduled to speak on TV Monday evening, and the betting is on this occasion for the announcement.

The present term of the National Assembly legally runs until next year. Elections are expected now, despite the government's unpopularity, because big decisions have to be made in the run-up to the monetary union.

These decisions will be unpopular - in order to reduce the budget deficit to the Euro-target of three percent of the national product - almost everybody will have to be laid off or something else equally drastic.

The government expects to loose a lot of the majority it now holds; but even if a coalition of the left could pull off a victory, they too are committed to European monetary union.

Win or lose, President Chirac will remain President of the republic and will see the monetary union come to pass and will be leading France as it enters the 21st century.

It looks like Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl intends to do the same thing; but he has to be re-elected to an unprecedented fifth term first.

For some time now monetary markets have considered the currency union nearly a 'fait accompli' and are looking forward to the weight the Euro will have in international trade. Losers will be individual traders themselves, who live off the trading commissions generated by minor fluctuations and occasional eruptions between currencies.

Anti-Air Pollution Measures Adopted for Paris

On Thursday, the Préfets of the Paris region were to sign an agreement limiting the use of all vehicles, in cases of pollution level three being attained. Even-numbered plates will be allowed to operate on even-numbered days and odd on odd.

There are an estimated 5.6 million vehicles in the Ile-de-France, and the anti-pollution measure should immobilize about 900,000 each day. Much of the traffic in the region is from one suburb to another, and only the immediate area around Paris will be affected.

The odd-even rule seems to depend on the number that is closest to the letters on number plates. Thus, 178 XH 75 is considered an 'even' number while 447 AB 92 will be considered 'odd.'

High pollution days will be announced the evening before, but if the air improves during the day concerned, the odd-even ruling may be lifted. Public transport will be free within the area concerned on alert days; but will not result in refunds for weekly or monthly ticket-holders.

If it is a really bad day, other measures will be put into effect. The speed limits will be lowered and heavy traffic will be routed around Paris.

Strikes On French Internal Flights

Since April Fool's Day the friendly skies of Europe have been de-regulated and since that time the staffs of what used to be France's internal airlines, TAT and Air Liberté, have been holding a series of work stoppages.

Both of these carriers has been bought by British Airways, and are supposed to be fused together, but just about everybody who works for them has put out an 'indefinite' strike alert, to last for an unlimited time. This is an apparent 'first' for civil air traffic in France.

One morning it's the pilots who are not flying, and the following day the ground crews are not unloading baggage. This is so erratic that putting up daily updates for the situation seems to be a futile task, especially since Air Liberté's long-haul flights are not affected too much by the strikes.

Although it doesn't amount to much for passengers who are seeing six out of ten flights canceled, unions had an unofficial meeting with the airlines' French management on Tuesday night; a meeting that management had previously refused to schedule.

This Week with Bernard Tapie, Again

All-round Mr. Motor, Bernard Tapie, did not get to work on time last Monday at his new job. The formalities of transferring him from one prison's authority to another took most of the day, and he will probably be docked a day's pay.

Meanwhile, right-wing majority politicians are raising Working on the paving stones questions about the 'justice' of allowing Mr. Tapie out of jail where he is serving an eight-month term, to work for a fellow he once hired to remodel his yacht, the four-masted 'Phocéa,' for a reported 68 million francs.

Fitting new paving to an old sidewalk on the Quai Malaquais, is not part of Mr. Tapie's new job.

Other deputies want to know the exact terms of Mr. Tapie's partial release; possibly because a great many politicians are in danger of facing conviction-hungry prosecutors who are on the lookout for funny-money campaign financing.

Regardless of what they are saying, Mr. Tapie did show up for work on Tuesday and in Le Parisien's photo, looks very much like his old dynamic self as he was caught hopping into his car at 18:10 to head back to jail fr the night.

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