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 are the ex-enfants of this generation.

While President Jacques Chirac sits in the Elysée Palace contemplating his re-run for President in 2002, he has to think that his party, the RPR, is not in good shape - with the whole spectrum of the right-wing at odds with one another.

One of the bones of contention is how well the President 'co-habits' with his Socialist Prime Minister. But what other choice does he have, with his own party so weak?

In a way, he could be running a holding operation. He is popular enough to get reelected without an united RPR. If he does, after another seven years, all of the present Socialist heavy hitters will move up to the age of Presidential aspirations - and this is when to PS could burst apart.

Meanwhile, the RPR must have some unfamiliar spear-carriers moving up through the ranks. By 2009, these may be determined enough to pull the RPR together - enough to become the governing party when Lionel Jospin - or Laurent Fabius - becomes President.

Sue La Poste?

On account of local disagreements over the introduction of the 35-hour work week, some postal centres have been on one form of strike or another for some time now.

Postal users in Nice got fed up and went to court, to obtain a judgement imposing La Poste tophoto: 2 posters, sophie marceau supply a 'minimum service.' The court in Nice told La Poste it would be fined 50,000 francs per day of non-compliance.

In Paris' poster-life, this was actress Sophie Marceau's week, with a total of three different posters.

This is considered to be two 'firsts.' It is the first time anybody has sued La Poste for non-performance. And it seems to open the way for La Poste to hire temporary workers to deliver the mail - in the case of wildcat strikes. Unions fear this will be a wedge in the locked-tight 'right to strike.'

A Toulouse court made a similar decision, but with the financial penalty factor. In Nice La Porte has set up a sorting centre at the Chamber of Commerce.

French Web Life

In case you have been wondering what the Internet is really about, this week's Internet Actu has a neat editorial by Bruno de La Perrière.

He writes that the Internet is not about how to 'make money,' about how to 'gain power,' or about how to 'gain audience,' or a combination of all three.

"Without doubt the Internet is the most wonderful invention since the carrier pigeon - the ancestor of the postman - in short: email."

Not in second place, but after email he includes personal Web pages, on the grounds that they give everybody the means for expressing personal opinions for distribution to everybody else. He writes that this is a 'priceless liberty' - even if mankind has its failings.

He says we should pray that states, regulators, the spies, the money-drunk, the powers, and the audience, 'don't suffocate this precious spontaneity.'

I think I'll pray for this too.

Paris Bourse Starts Hi-Tech Indexes

The Paris stock exchange's standard top-cap index is called the 'CAC40' and it hasn't been doing too badly recently, with a rise in value of 51 percent in 1999.

Two new high-tech indexes have been introduced. The 'IT.CAC50' includes only 'information technology' issues, and retroactively taking the end of 1998 as a base, it has risen by 167.9 percent.

Using the same base, the other index which is called the 'IT.CAC,' has risen by 152.7 percent. This index does include some 'CAC40' paper as well as all of the 'information technology' issues.

I neglected to mention it when it was announced, but the Paris Bourse has cut some sort of partnership deal with the Brussels and Amsterdam bourses - to offset the linkup deal between London and Frankfurt.

Mittel-Europa Web Life

I made a silly double-blooper. Back in the first issue of the year the Au Bistro column had a story about some finance guys registering a name, one that had been used for years by a French non-profit Web community. This item came from the 'discussion-list' named nowEurope, moderated by Steve Carlson in Budapest.

Blooper number one involved me calling Steve's discussion-list photo: paris match, sophie marceau 'Online-Europe,' which is what it was called for years, until Steve found out the name had been registered by another company. This sounds like the French item, doesn't it? Putting in the correct URL for 'nowEurope' was the second blooper.

Steve has software working for him on Sundays - a bit slowly - and this told him that Metropole had put in a link to 'nowEurope,' but called it 'Online-Europe.'

Need I say this is the third poster of the trio?

I am only going to write this once more, so read it carefully: former 'Online-Europe' is now named - and has been for some time - 'nowEurope.'

If you want to follow Internet business life in central Europe, sign up for Steve's active and informative 'moderated discussion list' - which means you can join the discussion too.

Alternative: BeOS Version 5

Jean-Louis Gassée's 'other' operating system called BeOS has moved up to version 5 and it has been available - for free - since Tuesday, 28. March.

This complete operating system is a big download. Before getting involved with the adventure of it, you should check its compatibility list to make sure it will run on your computer.

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