The Flags

Jospin Signs On as Prime Minister

Chooses Eight Women for Cabinet

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Sunday, 9. June 1997:- As was expected after last Sunday's victory at the ballot boxes, Socialist Party leader Lionel Jospin was named Prime Minister by President Jacques Chirac on Monday, and was asked to form a new government.

Analysts attributed the victory of the leftist parties more to the electorate's concern with high unemployment and LCI-TV Victory crowd in Paris the apparent inaction of the former conservative majority to deal with the problem - rather than to a sudden love affair with the left.

Lionel Jospin, above centre left, arriving at party headquarters last Sunday night.

In France, when the president is of one party and the government is of another, the action between the two is called 'cohabitation,' which could be translated as co-existence. This is foreign to anglophone parliamentary systems, but is fairly common in the United States. All the same, many in France think it is 'foreign' here too.

So the front page of Tuesday's Le Parisien says that the French are impatiently awaiting word of President Chirac's intentions, on page Liberation / Jospin two the paper says the President is not sorry about the outcome of the elections. 'Perfectly republican,' he is reported to have said.

Libération's Mr. Jospin, thinking hard about 'The New Chance.'

On following pages, a list of urgent problems facing the new government is presented and it not a short one. Monsieur Jospin, on the other hand, apparently has three priorities: lowering unemployment, raising citizen's purchasing power and lowering taxes.

On Thursday, the new Prime Minister and his cabinet team had their first meeting with President Chirac, and the participants judged that this too, was 'republican.'

Ile-de-France Results

Ninety-nine deputies to the Assembly National are elected in the Ile-de-France region. Parties on the left made significant gains, but did not achieve a majority. They captured 21 new seats for a total of 44, while the right-wing parties saw their number of seats tumble to 55.

Last Sunday night, after the main results were known, there was a big party in the Quartier Latin, with many dancing on the boulevard Saint-Germain. Another party got going at Bastille; somewhat dampened by the removal of the sound system that had been in place for the Fête de la Jeunesse. On TV, both of these parties looked like good fun.

Heads Roll As Conservatives Look for Next Victory

Wednesday's Le Parisien was not very polite with its front-page headline, "The Five Who Buried Chirac" - which also suggested that the President was hiding in the Elysee Palace while the conservatives tore themselves apart.

While the Thursday front page of the same paper gave prominence to the eight lady members of the new government's cabinet, page five's story was the first chapter of the Philippe Seguin's saga to capture control of the RPR.

This is a picture of a man determined to erase the power of the men who he considers to the authors of the right's defeat last Sunday. The 'elephants' of the party are gathering around Mr. Seguin and it looks like he is going to make a short job of it.

If what the paper says is correct, Mr. Juppé is not putting up much of a fight and even if he did, I doubt if he could carry any day against Mr. Seguin. Even Le Point's thoughtful Pres. Chirac from newspaper photographs, Mr. Seguin's eyes say 'no quarter, no captives!'

While everyone worries about the President, Mr. Chirac acts very 'Republican.'

At the Assembly National itself, Philippe Seguin was the unique candidate for leadership of the RPR group, which would be about the same as being leader of the opposition. Before the elections, he was president of the assembly.

Final Scores and Abstentions

The Socialist Party won the single largest number of votes, with 38.38 percent. The conservative RPR got 22.77 percent.

The Socialists and the Communists together received 42.22 and the combined vote for the RPR and the UDF was 43.74 percent. What puts the Socialists in the lead, is the support of various other leftist parties.

For actual seats, the Socialist Party alone has only two seats less than the combined RPR-UDF total, and since other right-wing parties have only 10 more seats to put at the minority's disposal, they can be easily outvoted by the leftist block.

While a lot of foreign commentary focused on the likelihood of there being Communists in the government - and the Communists have been awarded two cabinet posts - another left-wing block has emerged. Various 'greens,' ecologists, and radical leftists have announced that they will be known as the 'PRS' - Radical, Citoyen et Vert - and they can count on 30 to 35 deputies, just a few less than the Communist's total of 39 seats.

And Finally; Beetlebomb's Score:

The Front National got headlines, but didn't get seats in the Assembly National. In the second round of the legislative elections, the FN polled 5.56 percent, which entitles that party to one seat in the Assembly National. This was, of course, a huge drop in votes from their first-round score of about 15 percent.

Registered voters who didn't bother turning out last Sunday totalled 28.61 percent, down several points from the previous Sunday's first round. 27,088,620 votes were cast.

French Election Web Sites

For minute details about the National French elections, the numbers will be found at one or more of the web sites below.

France 2 TV Extensive coverage, including latest results from election day balloting.

Radio France International Basic coverage in French also features audio files.

The newspaper Libération's own Web site - also featured on Metropole's 'Links' page in every issue.

Le Parisien's Web site also has complete election results.


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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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