Election Springtime

photo: election posters

Election advertising - multiplied by 60,000 polling
stations in France.

Some of the Players

Paris:- Saturday, 20. April 2002:- Even if it is silly, even if it is incomprehensible, the main purpose of this magazine is to present Paris and France the way they are - rather than as a fantasy of a postcard, one that shows no irritating insects in this green and pleasant paradise.

It is the springtime of elections in France. First we have the elections to decide who will be president of the country and the French for the coming five years, and this will be followed a few weeks later by country-wide elections to select deputies to represent the French in their National Assembly.

Elections are usually, but not always, carried out in two stages. In the first stage, all of the candidates compete and the two who get the highest score go on to a second round for a showdown. If a candidate polls more than 50 percent in the first round, a second round is unnecessary.

Like many other countries, France enjoys both sides of the political spectrum - a right side and a left side. Somewhat unlike some other countries, France has many small, slightly different, parties on both sides. Most parties have names that don't mean anything in particular except to their members.

It is not well-known, but there even independent candidates who belong to no party, and some of them do get elected.

Official election campaigns are short. Jacques Chirac waited for seven years until Monday, 11. February to declare that he was running for reelection. Lionel Jospin kept his supporters in suspense until Wednesday, 20. February. Jean-Marie Le Pen 'played' martyr, and did not hand in his 500 endorsements making him eligible as a candidate until the Easter weekend.

Voters in France, and in its offshore territories, are not bombarded by newspaper ads, radio spots or TV commercials by candidates. Election posters are only pasted onto official panels supplied by and placed near voting bureaus, and only within a week or two of voting.

Candidates spend money on simple brochures, on renting halls to hold election meetings, and the odds and ends necessary for these meetings - such as for travel expenses and renting sound systems, and bubble machines. Candidates troll public markets and major exhibitions, and walk around neighborhoods, shaking hands and kissing babies.

They appear on as many radio-talk shows as they can. Television is obliged to give them equal airtime. A week before the vote, they are allowed to air simple one-minute video clips on TV, once per channel. If they have any campaign funds at all, they might spend them on high-powered communications advice - otherwise they rely on help from party members.

In short, bags of money cannot 'buy' an election in France. No one knows why elections cost so much. Some candidates go broke paying printing bills.

For tomorrow's vote, there are 16 candidates, running for the office of Président of France. Percentages of votes received on Sunday were added on Monday, as gathered from the morning papers.

The 16 Candidates for the 1st Round

photo: poster, daniel glucksteinDaniel Gluckstein - Age 49; married, three enfants; studied for master of history; posts held, professor of history; national Secretary of the Parti des Travailleurs. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 0.47%

photo: poster, olivier besancenotOlivier Besancenot - Age 27; single; studies, license in history; postman, parliamentary attaché; member of the direction of the LCR party. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 4.30%

photo: poster, arlette laguillerArlette Laguiller - Age 62; single; attended school until 16; posts held, bank employee, regional councilor, European deputy; spokesperson for the Lutte Ouvrière (LO) party; Candidate for président, 5th time. Percentage of votes received, 5.79%

photo: poster, robert hueRobert Hue - Age 55; married, two enfants; studied nurse's training; posts held, nurse, mayor of Montigny-les-Cormeille, general councilor, national deputy, national secretary of the PCF, now president of the French Communist Party. Candidate for président, 2nd time. Percentage of votes received, 3.41%

photo: poster, christiane taubiraChristiane Taubira - Age 50; divorced, four enfants; studied ecology, sociology and ethnology sciences; posts held, professor of economics, European deputy, national deputy for French Guyana; supported by the Radical-Left party. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 2.08%

photo: poster, noel mamereNoël Mamère - Age, 53; married, one enfant; studied doctor of information and communication sciences; posts held, journalist; national deputy, mayor of Bégles; member of 'Les Verts' party. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 5.27%

photo: poster, lean pierre chevenementJean-Pierre Chevènement - Age 63; married, two enfants; studied Sciences-Po, ENA; posts held, national deputy, mayor, government minister; president of the Citizens Movement party, supported by the Pôle Républicain. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 5.36%

photo: poster, lionel jospinLionel Jospin - Age 64; second marriage, two enfants; studied Sciences-Po, ENA; posts held, diplomat, professor of economics; national secretary of Socialist Party, 1st secretary of the PS, national deputy, government minister, general councilor, prime minister. Candidate for président, 2nd time. Percentage of votes received, 16.04%

photo: poster, jacques chiracJacques Chirac - Age 69; married, two enfants; studied, Sciences-Po, ENA; posts held, national deputy, state secretary, government minister, président of the general council, two times prime minister, mayor of Paris, Président of France since 1995. Candidate for président, 4th time. Percentage of votes received, 19.63%

photo: poster, francois bayrouFrançois Bayrou - Age 50; married, six enfants; studied, classical literature; posts held, farmer, teacher of French, national deputy, president of the general council, government minister, European deputy, Président of the UDF party. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 6.90%

photo: poster, alain madelinAlain Madelin - Age 56; separated, three enfants; studied law; posts held, lawyer, national deputy, mayor of Redon, government minister; president of the Liberal-Democrats. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 3.92%

photo: poster, corinne lepageCorinne Lepage - Age 50; married, two enfants; studied Sciences-Po, Law; posts held, lawyer, professor, elected in Cabourg, government minister; Président of the CAP21 party. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 1.89%

photo: poster, jean saint josseJean Saint-Josse - Age 58; married, four enfants; studied economics; posts held, businessman, mayor of Coarraze, regional councilor, European deputy; president of the Chasse, Pêche, Nature et Traditions (CPNT) party. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 4.31%

photo: poster, christine boutinChristine Boutin - Age 58; married, three enfants; studied law; posts held, CNRS employee, Crédit Agricole employee, journalist, mayor, general councilor, national deputy (UDF), dissident now supported by the Forum of Social-Republicans. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 1.19%

photo: poster, bruno megretBruno Mégret - Age 53; married, two enfants; studied Ponts et Chaussées, Polytechnician; posts held, ministerial councilor, European deputy, regional councilor, former right-hand man of the FN, now President of the extreme right-wing MNR party. Candidate for président, 1st time. Percentage of votes received, 2.37%

photo: poster, jean marie le penJean-Marie Le Pen - Age 73; second marriage, three enfants; studied Sciences-Po, law; posts held, army officer, national deputy, European deputy, Président of the Front National party. Candidate for président, 4th time. Percentage of votes received, 17.08%

Rate of abstention - 28.40%

The Candidates for the 2nd and Final Round

Jacques Chirac The out-going Président can expect support from François Bayrou, Alain Madelin, Corinne Lepage, Jean Saint-Josse, Lionel Jospin, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Noël Mamère, Christiane Taubira and Robert Hue.

Jean-Marie Le Pen can expect support from Bruno Mégret, even though they are annoyed with each other.

Note:- the above list begins with extreme-left candidates, with the dividing line between left and right, between Lionel Jospin and Jacques Chirac, and ends with extreme-right candidates. Some of the above may be slightly misplaced, due to changed affiliations or unknown ones. Percentages of votes given not definitive.

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