The French 'Euro' Election

As Voters Remain Confused, the Election Heats Up

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Sunday, 27. April 1997:- I have only just heard that the present election campaign 'officially' starts on Monday. I hope by this time next week there will be a few more election posters around; and I will keep a lookout for advertising on TV, although I'm not sure it is permitted.

What with French elections being poster and advertising-poor, it is hard to understand the origin of all the campaign fund money scandals - unless of course,campaign - Jospin it is common practice to simply 'buy' votes.

Since the state owns its own TV network, airtime is allotted to political parties and we get to hear politicians make their pitches in direct speeches, or in the form of discussion groups - which is a popular form of French TV entertainment in any case.

Seeing this van at the place Léon Blum, made me think the May Day parade was to pass through here.

Reading the papers one at a time is one thing, because there is always a little bit of political news. But to do a round-up - even in a week that is short one day's editions - is to be suddenly confronted with the tip of an iceberg that is hiding 'X'-number political parties times about 550 candidates.

In addition to six major parties, there are other ones with names like Radical-Right or Radical-Gauche, neither of which are at all 'radical.' At any rate, here's this week's selection:

Le Pen as Un-Candidate Can Not be Defeated

The leader of the ultra-right-wing Front National party has announced his intention not to be a candidate in the upcoming national elections on 25. May.

Jean-Marie Le Pen reserved most of his verbal blows at the Front National's May Day demonstration, for the President, Jacques Chirac. Mr. Le Pen is pretending to be very angry, at what he characterizes the President's 'coup d'etat.'

Speaking for 75 minutes to 8,000 partisans, to close the Front National's day in Paris, he had quite a few things to say, as he usually has.

He is called for the President's resignation if the conservative parties lose their large majority in the coming voting; he claims he is saving himself for the eventuality of contesting a Presidential election.

That eventuality is nil - the most likely reason for his non-candidature, is that no sure-thing electoral district can be found for him to run in. Instead, he will 'support' the 577 candidates the FN is throwing into the battle. Bruno Mégret, number two in the party, probably wanted Le Pen to run and lose - to give him a better chance to take over.

Of the 560-odd seats up for grabs, the FN is considered to be a contender in about five, and polls are saying the party may get one seat in the next National Assembly.

This one seat, may go to Mr. Le Pen's daughter, Marie-Caroline, who is running at Mantes-la-Jolie, in the Yvelines department, west of Paris. But if 30 hecklers of the 'Scalp Action' have anything to do about it, she won't. She and her six bodyguards were not amused.

Politician of the Week

There are two this week and both of them have had unfortunate experiences. Jacques Delors, one-time boss of the European Union and long-time Socialist Party stalwart, got a cream-pie right in the Jacques Delors kisser early in the week while lending his support at a political rally in eastern France. It sounds funny, but as played on TV it didn't look funny at all.

Mr. 'Euro,' Jacques Delors, on France 2 TV-news, saying sensible things that nobody wants to believe.

Much more serious was the Friday evening stabbing of the Minister of Culture, Philippe Douste-Blazy, in the town of Lourdes, where he is mayor.

He had entered a shop, in a pedestrian zone, selling religious articles and was in conversation with the owner, Marie-Nöelle Toulouze. She saw a man behind the mayor take out a knife, which he used to stab Mr. Douste-Blazy in the back, before running out of the shop.

She cried out, "Stop him, he's stabbed the mayor!" While she called the cops, a shop assistant tried to follow the assailant; who was found by police in the centre of town, sitting at a café terrace and drinking a diabolo-menthe.

The Culture Minister was rushed to hospital, where he was reported to be not seriously wounded. He was still in hospital on Sunday evening.

The assailant has had a history of mental problems, and had once before attacked the mayor, with a screw-driver. Mr. Douste-Blazy did not have a bodyguard with him at the time of the attack.

What the Polls are Saying

France has its own village, like Great Britain's, that always elects the winner. It is Donzy, in the Nièvre - which is east and a bit south of Paris.

For the past 25 years the 1,300-odd registered voters in this village of 1,733 inhabitants have chosen Green demo the winners of national elections. For the Chirac-Jospin contest, the voters score was with a tenth of a percentage point off the national score.

The 'Greens' having a good-time demonstration near the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.

The polling organization, Sofres, which supplies the preliminary results for the polling day TV-news at 20:00, bases its predictions on the first 200 ballots counted at Donzy, and a handful of similar electoral districts.

The Donziais keep their intentions to themselves, even if they have a tendency to vote for the left. The mayor, who has his heart on the 'left,' says 'Who knows?' about the possible results.

Recent polls score the right RPR-UDF with 38 percent, the Socialists and the Communists together with 38.5 percent, 14 percent for the ultra-right FN, and seven for the Greens.

20 Days Left Until Election Day


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