When Two Is Better Than One

photo: bistro le monte carlo

Just off the Champs-Elysées you'll find the Monte Carlo.

Le Parisien 'Discovers' the Web

Paris:- Sunday, 24. January 1999:- Over the weekend, the ultra-right-wing Front National Party has been having its share of congresses and meetings and the result has been the effective creation of a second 'Front National' Party.

This new one is no different from the original, with which it has to share members. Rather, members have to decide which to support, so there are now two 'Front National' parties, with about identical platforms, but each with only about half as many members as before.

The original is led by the original Jean-Marie Le Pen and the new one is led by the party's former number two honcho, Bruno Mégret. Le Pen seems to have more support from old-line party stalwarts who tend to be older. Mégret's supporters tend to be younger, mostly 'technocrats,' who see their leader as having a better chance in the June elections for the European Parliament.

Bruno Mégret and company have been trying to force a general meeting of the single party in the hopes that they can depose Mr. Le Pen, so I guess the formation of the sister party is an admission of failure to bull their way into power.

The net result for the mass majority totally indifferent to the Front National, will be the reporting of nearly identical xenophobic speeches made at the usual Sunday political rallies and relayed to us faithfully by Sunday evening's TV-news.

No Cops Where or When You Need Them

The police in France are generally upset about a trend to decentralization, which is being largely led by municipalities who want to have cops 'on the street.'

Yesterday, police union members marched again in Paris to protest against a government proposal to move many of them from quiet rural posts to turbulent suburbs surrounding cities. In turn, officials in small communities feel they are being pushed to create their own local forces.

Quite naturally, the numbers of the demonstrating policemen were calculated quite differently; the 'authorities' said less and the cops marching in the streets said more.

The police, who are national civil servants, are trying to defend their existing status and benefits. The government has given in a bit, but with the vaguephoto: showroom, champs elysees promise to look at the situation 'case by case.' The police want to know what this is supposed to mean.

With police cars like this one, there would be no shortage of cops on wheels.

Meanwhile, somebody took out a pocket calculator and figured out that there are 89,360 gendarmes and policemen in France, or about one for every 270 residents. This figure does not include strictly local municipal police, nor private security guards.

However, by pushing the buttons a bit more, the bean-counter figured out only 5,000 of them are in service throughout France at any given time during the day. Fewer are available at night.

Twenty thousand are supposed to be working on public security, but 15,000 of them are ill, on holidays or taking courses. No mention was made about what the other 69,360 officers are doing.

Those actually on duty are guarding public buildings, running police stations, moving prisoners about or watching over public demonstrations - such as yesterday's march by police in Paris.

Yet, one police union welcomed the figures; saying that they proved a need for more police. Another union leaer suggested they proved bad management. Mayors of smaller communities fear losing their local police stations to more distant security, to be offered by gendarmes.

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