My Euro Vote

photo: cafe terrace, place leon blum

The sun shines just as well in east Paris as west.

Plus Some Upcoming Babble

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 14. June 1999:- Yesterday I voted for the first time in 31 years, and this in the election for the European Parliament. If I had stayed in Germany, I would have been able to vote in local elections long ago by simply being a resident.

The abstention rate was high, with more than 50 percent neglecting to vote in France. In countries where voting is mandatory the turnout was habitually high. In all, voters in 15 countries went to the polls, with Britain and Denmark voting last Thursday, Ireland on Friday and the other 12 countries on Sunday - Europe's usual polling day.

My polling station in the village Hôtel de Ville is about 250 metres away from where I live and I went there to vote inphoto: rue de buci the early afternoon. There were two lists of those eligible to vote; French citizens and a separate 'complimentary European list.' This had only seven names on it; mine first, as number 00001.

Even when the sun does not shine in the Rue de Buci, it is still colorful.

Fifteen different ballots were set in piles along a long table. After signing in, I collected a selection of these and retired to a polling booth with a green curtain. I put one ballot in a tiny dark blue envelope and the rest of the ballots in a pocket rather than in the handy trash can.

The ballot box was a transparent plastic cube and I dropped the envelope into the slot on top. Election president, Dr. Delfaud, invited me to return at 21:50, to see the ballots counted.

This I did. Other residents had been invited too, to help with counting the ballots. At exactly 22:00 the ballot box was sealed and one minute later opened and the envelopes were poured out onto the table, where they were counted and divided into three piles of about 140 ballots each.

There were three tables for volunteer ballot-counters and a battery-powered lamp was placed on each, as emergency light in case of a power failure. Each table had duplicate count-lists, with a recorder for each, and two people to open the envelopes and announce the names on the ballots.

One envelope contained two identical ballots; which Dr. Delfaud decided were null and void. The table I was watching had two empty envelopes, which were recorded as empty - also null and void.

It took about an hour for 12 people at three tables to open all the envelopes, announce the names and record them. The results were recorded on duplicate master lists and all of the ballots, envelopes and count-lists were saved.

This is when I left. I think the results were to be posted in another room of the Hôtel de Ville, where a small group of residents were gathered. At home, the TV election specials were announcing the national scores and giving relative winners and losers their fifteen seconds to declare victory.

In France, the three mainstream conservative parties outpolled the Socialists, but the Socialists got more votes than any one of them. The 'green' vote, led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, managed to triple its score over its last showing in the European elections.

The French Communist Party lost ground, but the ultra-leftists gained enough to secure a couplephoto: metro bd voltaire of seats in the European parliament. The far-right got as many votes as in the last elections, but since it has split into two parties, only Le Pen's group will be allotted seats; effectively achieving a net loss.

Friday brightness on the Boulevard Voltaire.

Ninety minutes after the national results were known, the TV election specials were still running the talking heads. This is a favorite pastime of TV commentators and politicians, and for the latter represents the majority of airtime most will get until after the next balloting.

Although the European symbol of fifteen yellow stars on a blue background was on view on mainstream French TV channels, a few zaps around them did not turn up any results from other European countries.

However, by chance I found 'EuroNews' and it appears to show the mainstream conservative parties with the most seats, followed by the socialists; with the 'greens' having a big faction. What this will mean for pan-European politics, will take more than my observations can figure out.

But now, in France, now with a European citizenship, I can look forward to voting in the next municipal elections, although these are some years from now - being only once every six years. Dr. Delfaud told me this is where the real action is - at the roots.

For some official word on this - to me - important election, check out the Web site of the European Parliament. Hitting the French angle may give you a local view.

Wretched Excess: Babble by Ric Recorded for Visions by Herb

photo: herb malsman talking to mikeOn Sunday, 16. May, Herb Malsman had me talking to his microphone for three hours in the Latin Quarter. This was reported in the 'Scene' column in issue 4.20. After considerable editing - I hope - Web broadcast time has finally rolled around, and this will be in two parts: a week from today on Monday, 21. June, and on the following Monday, 28. June.

Herb Malsman talks to mike for a minute to give me a rest.

Herb Malsman didn't know about sculptor Ousmane Sow's 'Little Big Horn' show on the Pont des Arts before he saw it, and seeing it blew him away. Tune in to his 'Visions' on Broadcast.Com's audio-book Web site to hear what my babble sounds like, plus some other Paris noises. If you don't have an audio plug-in, you'll need to download one to hear this - something I do intend to do, too.

BNF Catalogue Online

Until now, the catalogue of the new but bug-plagued very huge Bibliothèque François Mitterrand has only been available at the library itself. The 'BN-OPALE' service is now on the Web. The seven million references are available to all who have Web access, but this is only the 'front door.' To access the catalogue you also need a Telnet emulator. With the Telnet terminal VT100, the address is opale02.bnf.fr.

This Week's Photos

After well over 100 issues of this magazine, this may be the first issue to feature no photos of any site of 'touristic' value. This is not supposed to be a big deal, and now I think of it a bit, it turns out not to be true. The feature about Paris' Garden of Palms certainly has worthwhile sights to see. The 'count-down' Eiffel Tower photo below doesn't count, because it is a 'count-down' photo; shot once, used week after week. I don't know what will replace it next year.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 3.24 - 15. June 1998 - This issue featured - Café Metropole - 'Putting the Sweaters Back On' and the 'Au Bistro' column had 'Eric Tabarly Lost At Sea.' This issue had one feature entitled 'Day One of the World Cup at Trocadéro.' There were several emails from readers: 'eMail: Only Mike Harmon Thought To Ask About Soccer' and 'eMails: 'Picnic' Knives Get Another Once-Over.' 'Links for WC'98: Ready, Set - Change Shirts!' was an service feature nobody asked for. There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was about a 'Big Screen Under a Bridge' - which was about the beginning of the World Cup 98.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 201 more partly cloudy, partly sunny Ile-de-France pre-summer days to go until summer really happens.
signature, regards, ric

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