Elections: Right Unable to Regain Lead

brasserie lipp
The Brasserie Lipp is the annex of the National Assembly.

Papon Trial Grinds to a Close, Slowly

Paris:- Saturday, 14. March 1998:- French voters will go toposter: 'baeckeeroot' fn the polls tomorrow, and Le Parisien thinks they do not know exactly why. Most voters will be choosing General Councilors for Cantons and Regional Councilors for Regions.

Since 1986, France has been divided into 22 Regions, with four others in off-shore territories. These regions are based on the ancient provinces of France.

Elected Regional Councilors sit at the headquarters of the region, vote for the regional budget, and represent the region on various commissions - for higher education, public transport, roads, parks and help guide regional development.

France is also divided into 96 Departments, withposter: lutte ouvriere an additional four off-shore. The Departments were created at the time of the Revolution. These are divided into a total of 4,034 Cantons, of which 2,038 will be voting tomorrow. The term is for six years but there is a three-year overlap; and the Cantons not having elections tomorrow will be having theirs in three years.

Elected General Councilors form the General Council of the Department, and they control the budget of it. Paris is a Department - the 75 - as well as a city, but its municipal council serves as its General Council too, so the 163 councilors serve the two purposes. Paris is either considered to be one Canton or none.

Since it is mostly about money, Departments handle about three times the cash flow of Regions. Regions cannot borrow to finance current expenses, so their budgets are tighter.

Sunday Election Update

Early TV results right after the polling stations closed put the leftist coalition of the Socialist Party, the French Communists, andposter: 'huchon' ps, pcf, verts, etc assorted Lefts in the lead. The rightist group composed mostly of the RPR and the UDF were estimated to have less, and the ultra right-wing National Front was estimated with its habitual 15 percent.

About 30 minutes later, the Minister of the Interior, after making several remarks about the National Front 'not being a normal political party,' said that it had slightly gained its share over the results for the last election.

Later figures put the leftist score at 40 percent and the moderate rightist score at 35.6 percent; and added that the right hadposter: anti-corruption slipped six points since the 1992 elections. The FN slipped over 15 percent. The abstention rate was high, at 41.9 percent.

Whatever the exact figures, most of the contested seats had three-way races. For any that did not give one party a clear majority, a second-round runoff between the two top vote-getters tonight, will be held next Sunday.

The campaign was hard-fought in Paris, and it looked like the left will have a 'relative' victory - a first for the left, in this RPR stronghold. Many 'big hats' of the centre-right are in serious trouble for not pulling their side out of its long-time slump.

The 100 Million Franc Thing

Yesterday, the 13th, and a Friday, France went Loto-crazy. For the occasion, the Loto organizers put on a special, Friday-only Loto, withposter: 'about' udf, cnip, rpr the top prize of 100 million francs.

Radio France Info was saying Friday morning the Loto expected to take in 450 million for the one-day affair.

A small bar in Asnières called Le Boyard sold a ticket last year which paid 150,077,770 francs on 20. March. This year there is a regular pilgrimage to this bar, as there is to any place where there was a big win.

At my local café this morning, I noted that somebody had become richer by 100,080,720 francs around 20:55 last night.

More Radio Blues

When I have time to listen, radio France Info tells me all sorts of facts. Fact one: the world price of crude oil has dropped 30 percent over the last three months.

Fact two: the price at the pump has dropped 10 centimes. Fact three: a litre of super costs me about 6.60 francs.

France Info did the calculation for me and said the price for the equivalent amount of fuel in the US would cost exactly 1.60 francs.

The Papon Trial: the Accusation Makes a Case

Beginning last Monday, the first of the civil lawyers addressed the court. At the head of a line of 23 of them, Gérard Boulanger, is the one who first made the first charges against Maurice Papon in Bordeaux, in December 1981.

He spoke for five hours, saying that Papon was an 'office-killer,' a 'killer with a pen' and his entire defense was a Vichy leitmotif, to justify the State collaboration. If Papon did not know about the 'final solution,' Boulanger said, 'Makes no difference. The man on the street knew. How could high functionaries not know?'

On Tuesday, it was Arno Klarsfeld's turn. Inposter: rpr, udf 'balladur' part he said, ' [He] chose to deliver the children to the barbaric Nazis, when he could have, without personal risk, dispersed them.' Le Parisien described Mr. Klarsfeld having done a 'titanic' work of memory, in animating the photos of 220 children, transferred from Mérignac to Drancy, then deported to Auschwitz and death.

At the end of the week, Maurice Papon had read a lot and written almost as much, in preparation for his turn before the assize court, probably on 26. March. He also dozed and even pretended to sleep - during Arno Klarsfeld's appearance. He did not want to hear the 20 lawyers who spoke during the week. All the civil lawyers demand a sentence of life imprisonment - although this is for the Minister of Justice to decide.

One civil lawyer, Mr. Tubiane, set Papon off. He is not to speak at this time; his turn comes last. Next week the last of the civil attorneys will speak on Monday, and will be followed by a district attorney and the chief prosecutor

Web Sites With Contents About the Papon Trial:

The Matisson family were the first to launch a civil case against Maurice Papon, in 1981. Jean-Marie Matisson runs the website, and reports from the courtroom. At the website, click on 'Affaire Papon.'

Another website of interest contains daily coverage of the trial by the Bordeaux paper, the Sud Ouest.

The Dead French Pop Star

If France had an Elvis, then his name would be Claude François, and he would be 59 years old if he hadn't electrocuted himself while taking a bath on 11. March 1978. At the time, after 15 years in show business, he was number one.

Today, clips of his TV shows are rerun endlessly on TV, partly because of his 'Clodettes,' whoposter: generation ecologie appear to be five tall and healthy girls, who dance energetically while wearing fewer textiles than most Lido dancers. This may be part of the reason fans still buy 700,000 copies of his records annually.

He had his first hit single in 1962, headlined at the Olympia for the first time in 1963 and went planetary with 'Comme l'Habitude,' which became 'My Way' in English.

The general opinion is that if he were alive he'd be running a TV network by now. I've seen some of the clips. If he'd kept up that pace, he would have burnt out before reaching 50. Burnt something out.

The World Cup SportsBar Now Open Forever

Real SportsFans gather at the SportsBar seven days a week, at the Football Café to discuss the finer points of the game of feet and balls, without getting too 'psychopsycho' about it. If the game takes longer than 35 hours, SportsFans go into terminal beer shock, for which the only cure is pretzel injections. Salt peanuts cool. Popcorn too.

Less uplifting are the 'official' Web sites: represented by the FIFA - which stands for Federation International - and the French Organizing Committee, known to all far and wide as the CFO. I don't what the initials stand for, just like RATP does not sound like métro to me.

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