...Continued from page 1

This automatically brings up the problems of the environment, because these conflict with the production of the 'bon bouffe' - and the green and pleasant landscape that goes with it which is equally important for attracting visitors.

These considerations make the various shades of 'green' candidates important - even though none of them have explicitly noticed the relationship between 'green' and good food, and the attraction of these to visitors who are willing to pay dearly for both.

Somewhere buried in the finance ministry there are figures that represent the value of visitors to France. But the French mentality is not ready to grasp the implications of what foreigners contribute to the French economy as a whole.

It must be a considerable amount, especially when the light industry of concocting French fashions of every sort is factored into it.

It seems undeniable that France's future is heavily dependent of being 'green' in one way or another. It seems strange that nobody is going to be asked to vote for it even though it will benefit everybody.

What Is Democracy?

If it is a 'good thing,' why isn't it for everybody? This is a question being asked by some of the bolder candidates who have willingly labeled themselves as Trotskyists.

In its dictionary meaning, it is supposedphoto: right bank of seine to mean 'rule by the ordinary people.' The word itself is from old French, derived from late Latin, which got it from Greek. In other words, it is an old-fashioned notion that was probably pure theory.

Its modern usage probably came into being when radicals in France thought they needed to convince ordinary folk that they had just as much right to rule as the king.

An environmentally-correct vision of Paris pretending to be having spring.

As a philosophical buzz-word it has been around for a long time, but the French kings' notion of how to administer France was around for a lot longer - and this is what was carried over as a way of actually running France.

As sort of a lose definition, one could say 'democracy' can allow a former student with Trotskyist notions to evolve into a socialist candidate for the office of president of the republic, somewhat like Lionel Jospin has done.

In general, most people in France are pretty tolerant, but they understand that the lingering 'Devine Right of Kings' has a bit of an edge over 'democracy,' even if anybody knew what it meant.

The Promises

For the first round of voting, 14 out of 16 presidential candidates are saying, "We should..." this or that, including 'have more democracy.'

The other two candidates, who sometimes seem a little annoyed that they are only getting 14/16ths of airtime, more or less say that they will more or less keep on doing what they've been doing for the past five years, while the right-wing president has been 'cohabiting' with the left-wing prime minister. For some reason the word 'compromise' is not used in public in France, although it is certainly in practice privately.

This is a lot less exciting than the "We should..." statements because we already know what it is. It's not like we are being promised all sorts of great new things, new directions.

Lionel Jospin, the Prime Minister, is particularly vulnerable because he keeps saying he intends to do things as president that he didn't get around to as prime minister. 'Why wait?' is a question that immediately springs to mind.

But more realistically, the two offices are two different jobs - I think the days may be past when the Président of France could be its hands-on Prime Minister at the same time.

The Président, Jacques Chirac, if re-elected, is unlikely to try to do the prime minister's job, so it is hard to figure out what he will do 'new' if he gets to be president for another five years.

Although most of his right-wing 'partners' seem to think that Mr. Chirac has been something of an ineffective president - by letting Lionel Jospin be an active prime minister - it seems to me that he has been quite 'presidential.'

In the late spring of 1995 at the Arc de Triomphe on the first day of his presidency, I saw him step out of the rigid path laid out for him by the security gorillas, and take a spontaneous shake-hands cruise along the line of ordinary people lined up behind the temporary crowd barriers.

Lionel Jospin, on the other hand, does not particularly like kissing babies, but has done a credible job as prime minister for the past five years. Running France is no picnic.

Writing about those who would run France if they were not candidates two through 16, is not much fun either - but the election campaign is relatively short. Other commentators in France think the campaign never stops, but these are paid to think this.

Since I am not paid to do so, this is only a part-time job for me and I don't care much if the above observations doesn't make much sense.

It is merely a reflection that we've gotten into the 21st century, without knowing what's playing yet. This being the case, the comments on this page are sort of place-holders for this week's photos, especially the ultra-rare 'Fiat 500 of the Night.'

The Election, Part I

With five whole days left to go until the first round of the national election for Président of France, I think I can skip further election news and let voters in France make their choices in private for the 14 candidates who will have campaigned for weeks with all their might, but will not be on the ballots on Sunday, 5. May.

Internet 'Life?'

All I can say this week about this sort of life is that it is not quite as interesting as it used to be, but this doesn't mean you should avoid this magazine, because it still operates on the same principles it had when it started about 1,000 years ago in 1996.

Spring Weather Alerts

France, a pleasant and green place, does have weather that might be dangerous to your health - or on a lesser scale, cause you some serious discomfort if you happen to be at sea without an oar or up a snow-free mountain without a goat-cheese sandwich.

Weather warnings are provided by a service from our friends at France-Météo.photo: fiat 500 du nuit You are supposed to use this service before you get into ugly situations because using it afterwards will not help you at all.

A total exclusive, for this week only - Metropole's first 'Fiat 500 of the Night.'

Paris is not an exciting weather area. The alert service is mainly for northern, central, mountainous, eastern, western Atlantic coast, all types of southern and offshore areas of France that occasionally or regularly have more extreme weather than the Ile-de-France region.

If you are curious or want to know more about France's so-called spring weather, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts. Check out the warning-prone 'Vigilance-Météo' area on the opening page.

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