'Historic' Win for Left In Paris

photo: terraces bastille, wednesday

A couple of days before the polls opened, at Bastille.

Bertrand Delanoë To Be Named Mayor

UPDATE:- Paris:- Monday, 19. February 2001:- After the ballots were counted following yesterday's second round of the municipal elections, ex-mayor Jean Tiberi announced that he would begin his reelection campaign for Mayor of Paris today.

Possibly somewhat to the surprise of the major right-wing parties, he also self-proclaimed himself as their 'leader of the opposition' in the newly elected Paris city council.

The undisputed leader of the Tiberi faction of the RPR, saw only two of his lists triumph yesterday - in his personal stronghold of the 5th arrondissement, and in the 1st.

The main group of combined right-wing forces, led by Philippe Séguin, managed not to lose six other arrondissements.

In what Le Parisien today calls a 'historic' victory, the combined leftist forces composed of Socialists, Communists and 'Les Verts' - the Green party - captured control of 12 arrondissements, six more than held previously.

When the Council of Paris meets in a week to officially select the head mayor of all Paris, the winnersphoto: bertrand delanoe will control 92 seats out of a total of 163 - which will ensure that Bertrand Delanoë becomes Paris' next mayor.

Last night the area of the Hôtel de Ville was blocked off to allow vote fans to celebrate. As results were posted they began chanting, 'We want the keys.' The weather was overcast, breezy and cool. Shortly after midnight Mr Delanoë arrived to greet his supporters.

Bertrand Delanoë, Paris' next mayor.

The musical entertainment began shortly afterwards, but the less than huge crowd did not stay long. The private TV station TF1 abandoned its election night coverage to show a film at 22:20 and France-2 TV ended its coverage at 22:45, leaving only France-3 to carry on until after midnight.

Except in Lyon, which also went left, the right-wing parties did well in the rest of France generally, with the Socialists losing some of their long-time strongholds.

Government ministers who were running for local seats did not do well either. Minister of Education Jack Lang, lost his long-time place as mayor of Blois. He announced that this will enable him to devote himself '100 percent' to the education hotseat.

In Paris, within the right's camp, it remains to be seen whether Jean Tiberi's 'leader of the opposition' declaration will be accepted with as little enthusiasm as his self-proclaimed candidature for reelection as Paris' mayor.

But political infighting on the right will no longer be as important to Parisians, because the left will be running Paris for at least the next six years.

Parisians Vote In Rain

Nobody Gets Elected

Paris:- Sunday, 11. February 2001:- Tonight's tally of ballots for today's first-round of the municipal elections has produced a result less rosy for the Socialists than polls predicted. All the same, the leftist list headed by Bertrand Delanoë scored 32 percent citywide.

The main rightist list, headed by nationally known Philippe Séguin came in second with 25 percent. The dissident rightist list, led by Paris' soon- to-be-former mayor, Jean Tiberi, scored 13 percent.

With this, the out-going mayor got about what polls predicted, but the left-leaning 'Verts' did better than expected, with 12.5 percent.

The ultra-nationalists, divided into at least two lists, only got half of their modest 1995 score, and were out-voted by those few who favor the extreme-left.

This first round of voting resulted in nobody gettingphoto: vote ecolo poster elected in Paris. This means that all 'lists' of candidates that scored less than ten percent are out of the contest.

It also means that the Socialists and their list-partners have to come to terms with the triumphant 'Verts' before the second and winner-take-all round of balloting next Sunday.

Going into the elections, right-wing parties had control of 14 arrondissements and the left had majorities in six. With no absolute majorities today, the left appears to be poised to win nine arrondissements, while the right is in the same position in five.

In six arrondissements, there will be close three or four-way races next Sunday. In four of these, lists supporting Jean Tiberi are in positions to swing the balance in favor of the main right-wing 'lists.'

The horse-trading in the smoke-filled 'back rooms' begins late tonight. In almost all of the close arrondissements, the 'Verts' have scored as much or more than the Tiberi-loyal lists - and their 'natural' allies are the Socialist-dominated leftist lists.

The rate of abstention has been considered high at 38 percent. On the other hand, 62.5 percent of registered Parisian voters went out in the rain, to participate in the 'Battle for Paris.'

The left didn't get the landslide some people had been dreaming of. Jean Tiberi's dissident faction wasn't reduced to pulp. The balloting's big surprise was the strong showing by 'Les Verts.'

Paris isn't going to change from blue to completely pink next Sunday, but it may turn out to be 'greener' than anybody has foreseen. The greens' number two in France and number one in Paris, Yves Contassot, is happy tonight.

TV's Score

In Paris, polling stations closed at 20:00, just in time for my habitual France-2 TV to begin its election coverage at 19:50. Municipal and cantonal elections were held today throughout France, so it was not possible to get a concentration of Paris results from the national networks.

The coverage was a potpourri of results from Lyon's several arrondissements mixed in with scoresphoto: cafe barrio latino, interior from places like Sarran in the Corrèze, where Bernadette Chirac was re-elected municipal councilor on the first try.

The interior of a modest café called the Barrio Latino.

'Cantons' were also up for grabs, and the right should capture nine out of 17 in the Corrèze, maintaining this electoral 'fief' for France's president. This also blocked the advance of the Socialist party's national secretary, François Hollande. But he did manage to win the mayor's slot in the town of Tulle outright.

In France, holding multiple elective offices is fairly common, especially for national figures. The current Minister of Employment, Elizabeth Guigou, tried to parachute into Avignon and received a rude surprise when her RPR competitor came within a hair of an absolute majority.

Jack Lang, longtime mayor of Blois, probably suffered from recently accepting the additional job as Minister of Education - plus having had a brief flirt with the Paris elections. He will have to cross his fingers when trying again next Sunday.

The 'Verts,' who generally did well, saw their national leader and Minister of the Environment, Dominique Voynet, stopped cold in an attempt for the mayor's seat in Dole in the Jura. The same thing happened to the popular - and Communst - Minister of Transports, Jean-Claude Gayssot, in Béziers.

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