...Continued from page 1

The Socialists were shown in second place with 27%. Their recent allies, the Communists and Les Verts, were not included in PS' total. The FN was credited with an 11% intention to vote, which is quite a bit less than its leader got in either of the two presidential rounds.

The legislative elections also have two rounds, and the above poll results only refer to the first.

Unlike the presidential election, where the top two candidates proceed to the 2nd round if there is no outright winner in the 1st - for the legislative elections the leading three candidates fight it out in the 2nd round.

No amount of political-science degrees will aid anybody trying to figure out in advance how this will turn out. There will be some 1st-round outright winners, but for the 2nd round there will be some 'triangles.'

Voters whose candidates didn't make it in the 1st round will switch votes in the 2nd. Candidates will drop out to favor the chances of others. There will be a lot of shuffling, wheeling and dealing.

It is the Président who decides who will form his government. If the parties that support him end up with a majority after the legislative elections, then he will not be faced with the dreaded 'co-habitation.'

The New Government

In the meantime, during the short period leading up to the results of the legislative elections for seats in the Assembly National, the Président will designate a new Prime Minister, who will form a government to run France for the next 42 days.

Today this choice has settled on Jean-Pierre Raffarin. This experienced politician is a member of the Democratic-Liberal Party, led by Alain Madelin. He was a minister in Alain Juppé's government in the mid-'90s, but mostly has played a regional role in Poitou-Charentes, as well as being a Senator.

After having a chat with the Président he has had a day's ride around town - in a Peugeot 607 - to the Prime Minister's headquarters at the Matignon, then to the Senat, and back to Matignon where he shook hands with Lionel Jospin, who said goodbye to him and everyone else.

The composition of the government is expected to be announced tomorrow, but tonight's TV-news has put forward the names of Nicolas Sarkozy as 'super' Minister of Security - a new post, with 'zero tolerance' - Philippe Douste-Blazy as Minister of Education, and Chirac's Elysée Palace manager Dominique de Villepin as Foreign Minister.

For the period leading up to the coming elections, a lean crew of only 15 ministers is expected. So far, with the names mentioned, all three leading right-wing parties are represented - RPR, UDF and DL.

With his eyes focused firmly on the presidential elections in 2007, Alain Juppé is busy trying to construct a new party out of the three mentioned above, with yet a new set of initials - the UMP, or the 'Union Pour la Majorité Présidentielle.'

The Bank Gang that Disappeared

On Friday morning, radio France-Info was exciting listeners with the news of a bank robbery with a hostage situation at a branch bank in Montrouge, just south of Paris.

After receiving an alert at 9:37, the special police unit called 'Raid' prepared a security cordon around the bank and readied itself to storm the building, free its hostages and capture the bandits. The Route Nationale 20 was closed, everything was in place.

With daring and elan, the 'Raid' unit penetrated into the bank's interior. They found no hostages and no robbers in it. The bank's seven employees had calmly managed to escape though a window.

This left the two to four robbers with no means to rob anything. For two hours the police were allowed to listen to the bank's interior via its security system, but they didn't hear a peep.

The foiled robbers, from two to four of them, remain at large.

Home-made Easy Money

After months of investigations, the Police Judicière at Cergy near Paris raided the rented room of 'Mohamed Z' at Pontoise, to look for the source of phoney ID papers that have been circulating.

Quite a bit to their surprise, they also found 80,000 in fake euros, plus the equipment to make thephoto: petit palais counterfeit notes - a computer, hard disk, scanner, printers, and empty ink cartridges.

'Mohamed Z,' a known robber who reconverted himself to high-tech, was capable of producing phoney ID cards and bank notes that police said were of 'good quality.'

The city's Petit Palace is closed during its restoration.

This unexpected discovery of counterfeit-euro production has been the first in France since the new currency was introduced at the beginning of the year. Police are examining the hard disks they seized, and they would like 'Mohamed Z' to make some explanations, but he hasn't been overly talkative.

Le Parisien has described the computer equipment as 'high-end' but the report only mentions a portable computer as the central unit. The rest of it, with the possible exception of a laser printer, sounds pretty much like what I've got sitting in front of me.

What I don't have is any 50euro 3 sign or 200euro 3 sign notes as samples for making copies.

Spring Weather Warnings

Paris is not an exciting weather area. But quite a bit of snow has been falling in other areas of France, which has been annoying motorists and people who like mountain sports such as climbing on them.

France-Météo's 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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