Times Are Changing

photo: bistro le raynouard

The bistro where the server-lady and I did not have a
lazy, boozy, Friday afternoon.

Mr. Nobody Discovered In Paris

Paris:- Sunday, 25. February 2001:- Things that don't happen naturally in France often get legislated into life. This happens so often - lately - that common folk are often caught short and left scrambling to conform to the new law of the land.

During the last municipal elections in France in 1995, 107,979 ladies were elected to municipal councils. With this number, they constituted just over 20 percent of those elected.

Since then it has become a national law that when candidate lists are made up in towns with populations above 3501, no more and no less than half of each party's candidates must be women.

Candidate lists are complicated affairs. In small towns of, say 3501 inhabitants, there will be 27 seats on the municipal council up for grabs.

If there are two political groups, each must create a list of 27 candidates - which means there must be 13 or 14 women on each one. Regardless of the size of the town or city, the number of seats is always an odd number.

But, taking the hypothetical small town into account, creating two opposing lists requires 54 candidates - or finding 27 women willing and able to seek office.

This is the simple version, and as always in France, there are exceptions - and these include Marseille, Lyon and Paris. Plus, Paris is a Department as well as a city, and since it is divided into 20 arrondissements,photo: wildcat election posters these are somewhat like sub-cities - but this is beside the point.

The basic problem at the moment is finding ladies willing to be candidates. Some of them are being grabbed off the street, willy-nilly.

Wildcat political poster location changes its posters almost nightly.

Back to the list of candidates. If one party's 'list' gets more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round of voting, then that party wins outright - it has a majority.

But this seldom happens because there are usually more - many more - than two parties. When no 'list' gets a majority in the first round, it goes on to the second round and lists with less than five percent of the votes are eliminated.

The remaining 'lists' jockey around with shifting alliances, to try and put together a common list that can get - enough - of a majority in the second round of voting - enough to get some of its higher-placed candidates elected.

Now, the old polls - mostly men - might like to put the ladies in the bottom positions on the candidate lists, so that they get bumped off when the second round takes place - but the new law also stipulates that the ladies must occupy the list in groups of no less than six - as in, six men, six ladies, and so on to the end of the list.

Some parties are going this one better, and setting up their lists to alternate one to one, so a lady is either number one or two on the list - thus having a high chance of getting elected even if the party ends up in the opposition.

As far as the number of women elected to political office is concerned, France is at the end of the line in Europe. With these elections, the change should begin - to reach the goal of parity.

The remaining exception is that the presentation of a list that is not balanced results only in a fine - which some macho types consider to be no more serious than a parking ticket.

One party in a town in Essonne cannot convince enough women to be on its list. This will result in the present mayor and his list running unopposed for re-election.

Now, before the coming elections, there are only three women mayors of cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. In all, there are 2970 lady mayors, mostly of towns of less than 3500 inhabitants.

This figure represents only eight percent of France's 36,000 mayors.

A Quiet Campaign

Unlike national or European elections, municipal ones get no air time - no radio and no TV. Near each polling station, municipal billboard panels are set up in a public place, with one panel reserved for each party with a list of candidates.

Parties, if they have deep pockets, can rent commercial billboards but this is not very common. In Paris, even large, wide-angle commercial billboards are relatively rare.

The municipal billboards have been in place since Friday I think, yet a small tour on Saturday found several sets of them to be totally blank.

Meanwhile, posters are being plastered around, in illegalphoto: blank election billboards places. Since these are illegal anyway, posters get plastered on top of other posters, and then another midnight crew comes along and defaces them all anyway.

The official poster panels - one for each 'list.' Earlier today, no takers.

Many candidates do the door-to-door in person, stroll around neighborhoods, tour marchés and kiss babies. They also hold public meetings for their fans, but if you are not connected to this scheme of things, you can easily never learn of these.

Even the so-called 'Battle For Paris' runs on this level of public excitement. A couple of weeks ago I went over to a local candidate's store-front, expecting a hive of activity, and found it closed and locked up until 17:30.

I recently have passed another candidate's store-front somewhere nearby, but when I tried to find it again I couldn't. When I asked locals where it might be, nobody knew. Maybe nobody was telling.

Mr. Nobody's Poster

Almost exactly when you'd think it wouldn't be, it is a slow time for the commercial billboard companies. To fill their blank spaces, one of them has been running a mystery campaign, featuring a nobody named Jean-Patrick.

The big, wide banners show Jean-Patrick drinking a cola or shaving, with pithy texts such as "Jean-Patrick always knew he'd be Jean-Patrick." or "Jean-Patrick doesn't cheat."

The campaign was supposed to run for two weeks, but the cat slipped out of the bag a few days early. It is the brain-child of a billboard company calling attention to itself - to point outphoto: beer testers, cow show the fact that billboard messages do reach an audience.

The Mr. Nobody named Jean-Patrick has turned out to be a nobody from New York, named James Christopher Candi, who specializes in self-portraits of nobodies.

Regional breweries on hand at the cow show find plenty of willing 'testers.'

Too bad he has just done himself out of a possible lifetime job, by getting himself plastered all over Paris for the past ten days.

According to Le Parisien, Mr. Candi has returned to New York - but he hopes to return to Paris soon, where he is fairly famous.

Web Life - Modest 'ThankYous'

Last week's absence of this column was not due to any of you not sending in any interesting Paris URLs - although nobody did. This means that the following contributions are considered to be completely spontaneous, and therefore are worth of big 'Thankyous.'

Michael McKinnon in Pomona is unrelated to Scott McBride in Sausalito even if both places are in California. The reason for linking their names here is that they've both plugged the Paris click-maps found on France Télécom's PagesJaunes.

First you get a whole map of Paris, then you click on part of it, and a close-up map appears. Then you click on the street you want, and this eventually leads to a photo - perhaps of a shop, or of an apartment building. Scott said these images are available in 3D but I didn't see this, possibly because I generally leave my 3D software turned off. My building isn't on this Web site either.

Meanwhile, Paul Rupert, who recently became a Café Metropole Club member by coming to a meeting and signing the members' booklet, suggested the Paris Chamber of Commerce web site - for its listings of upcoming salons and trade fairs.

Paul Rupert is unrelated to Scott McBride even though they both live in Sausalito. Christina Witsberger is also unrelated to everybody above, which has nothing to do with her living in Maryland.

Christina's plug is for the France Tourism's famous people page. This gives a brief overview of where to find some famous Parisians, like Frédéric Chopin, who Christina thinks has been sadly neglected in the museums and monuments department.

Joel Stratte-McClure, who lives on the Riviera, sent an email plugging a new book of photos titled 'Coastal Pleasures - Perusing the French Coastline,' with a suggestion that I review it. He also included the Web URL, so you can get an idea of its contents without any interference from me.

Your Paris Web URLs

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. If they haven't been featured before and they don't crash my browser, you'll get a modest 'thankyou' here.

The Big Catalogue

This is not La Redoute's or Trois-Suisses' combined mailorder catalogues, but the catalogue of catalogues for books in French. Called the 'Catalogue Collectif de France,' it unites the catalogues of the Bibliothèque Nationale, the university libraries, and 55 specialized libraries around France. This site is relatively new. Its ambition is also to provide documents on demand, but this is still in the works.

Winter Sports News

As of today, 'winter' is 67 days old. It may be a bit more perky, colder and snowier than before. If you are interested in the state of snow at French winter sports stations, tryphoto: snow on cars, sunday hitting the Hiver, SkiFrance and Net4Ski Web sites.

The ex-ski champion Edgar Grospiron has a site, called Ridearth. Especially conceived for actual fans or practitioners of speedy downhills, it features all sorts of current white snow activities, including morsels of techno-ski music.

France's choo-choo people also have a winter sports Web site. Clicking on Neige will bring up whatever it is that the SNCF has to offer in this line.

The 'Official' Weather - 110% 'Winter'

This weekend will see Paris getting a taste of real winter and who knows how long it will last? For real forecasts, give the Météo France site a hit. Predictions are usually fairly shortrange because Météo France doesn't have any crystal balls to compare with the TV-weather news.

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini