Mitterrand's Revenge!

photo: bistro le rivoli

More grey days last week - these on Rivoli.

Rumors Result In Shuffle

Paris:- Sunday, 2. April 2000:- A new word for me popped up last week. 'Remaniement' means cabinet shuffle, and having one actually happen confirmed the rumors that had been floating around.

The recent business of the budget 'jackpot,' and the concurrent dissatisfaction of several groups of workers - plus, perhaps most important of all - the coming municipal elections next year and national ones the year after, suggested the time is ripe for a new team.

This turned out to include several heavy hitters from former President François Mitterrand's old team.

The opposition poo-poohed the choices - cosmetics! - but in fact are probably very unhappy that the French Socialist Party has a reserve of tested - and familiar - ex-government ministers to call on.

Among them are three 'elephants,' as big politicos here are called. Laurent Fabius, foreman of the Assembly National and one-time Prime Minister himself, got the powerful finance slot - which had been freewheeling a bit since the departure of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Jack Lang, stiffed his supporters for the mayor of Paris race, to take on the difficult Ministryphoto: boulevard sebastopol of Education - a job he has had before. Teachers, students and parents continued their demonstrations just to remind him that there is unfinished business.

Radio FIP's ladies call it 'Sebasto,' and this is how it looks in rain.

Catherine Tasca was called in to take over a combo of Culture and Communications, at a time when the first is France's main attraction, and the second is supposed to make France even more prosperous. Mme Tasca had part of this job ten years ago, and has been occupied with it elsewhere on several levels in the meantime.

For all the unhappy civil servants, Michel Sapin is supposed to convince them that the future will be better than the past. As an 'ex' of justice and the economy, he is credible.

The Communists, who already have a member as a minister, got another one - the less well-known Michel Duffour - which made PCF leader Robert Hue very happy.

Despite all the problems the 'Green' minister Dominique Voynet is having with oil spills and unhappy hunters and fishermen, she was kept on. In fact, another 'Green,' Guy Hascoët, was added to the cabinet. Roses, reds and greens.

Commentators generally agreed that the new team has been constituted to ensure Socialist election victories in the upcoming elections - as if making cabinets was supposed to be for some higher purpose.

Since the varying right-wing parties are no more united now than yesterday, it sort of looks like Lionel Jospin has got a durable 'A' team together - one that could swamp any foreseeable 'C' team the opposition might be able to assemble.

Parisian Repercussions

'Smiling' Jack Lang and his Paris fans were busily preparing for his parachute descent into the Paris mayoralty race, when he decided to join the national team.

This has left two local candidates of the right and left to challenge the sitting mayor, Jean Tiberi, member of the RPR party.

Françoise de Panafieu - who was 'fired' by the mayor for presuming to run for his seat - now thinks she can beat him as well as her Socialist competitor, Bertrand Delanoë - who no longer has to worry about Jack Lang dividing PS voters' attentions.

However, there was still a major 'elephant' lurking in the wings, in the form of Philippe Séguin, one-time president of the RPR and ex-presidentphoto: ecole arts et metiers of the Assembly National. The present national leader of the RPR, Michèle Alliot-Marie, sent him a letter saying 'We've missed you.'

The entry to the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.

On Thursday evening, Philippe Séguin announced himself as an RPR candidate for the mayor's chair in Paris on TV-news. This brings the total of RPR candidates to three - Jean Tiberi, Madame de Panafieu and Philippe Séguin.

The same evening, Bertrand Delanoë was confirmed as the Socialists' candidate, against no opposition other than some blank ballots, cast by disappointed Jack Lang fans.

Yesterday afternoon Philippe Séguin paid a visit to the Elysée Palace to explain his plans for Paris to President Jacques Chirac - who was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995. This was the first time the two have met since Mr. Séguin dumped his job as national leader of the RPR a year ago.

Spokesmen for the President insist that he has no intention of involving himself with the Paris race; but he did give 90 minutes of his time to hear what Mr. Séguin had to say.

Polls conducted on Thursday and Friday gave Philippe Séguin a two-point edge over Bertrand Delanoë. Meanwhile, another RPR ex-Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur, has said he will announce his decision about running for the Paris hotseat next week.

The Age Thing

When I write that Lionel Jospin has renewed his cabinet with Mitterrand-era ministers, you should not get the idea that these old war-horses are retreads. At 60, Jack Lang, who could pass for 52, is the oldest. The entire crew are in the 40 to 60 year age range.

This means that the oldest are members of the '68-generation' and the 40 year-olds ae the ex-enfants of this generation.

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