Only 8474 Candidates

photo: cafe le procope

Le Procope, giving its new parasols a tryout.

More Elections Already

Paris:- Monday, 20. May 2002:- Following the re-election of Jacques Chirac as Président of France a week ago a new government composed of right-wing politicians was quickly put into place and began a furious work pace, in order to convince voters to give the right control of the National Assembly in the impending legislative elections.

The Socialists, totally outmaneuvered but not totally demoralized, quickly made deals with their allies, 'Les Verts' and the Communists, to present slates of candidates with the best chances of stopping the right from gaining a majority in the coming polling.

Initial surveys of intentions to vote have shown that the two main right and left groupings have roughly equal chances to win.

With 20 days to go until the first round of the legislative elections on Sunday, 9. June, there are 8,424 candidates running for the 577 available seats in the Palais Bourbon. This is an increase in candidates of more than 30% over the last legislative elections.

New Party On the Right

For this election, the 'Union Pour la Majorité Présidentielle' - UMP - has been created. It is supposed to bring various centre-right factions under the president's personal 'umbrella.'

Whether this signifies that the RPR - the 'Rassemblement Pour la République' - the president's former party, is dead duck, is unknown to me.

Some right-wing candidates who have notphoto: cafe balto received official blessing from the UMP are going ahead with their own party names, such as 'Majorité Présidentielle.'

In the Quartier Latin, light and shadows outside the Café Balto.

François Bayrou, a recent Présidential candidate, who is head of the long-established centre- right UDF party, is completely out in the cold and is planning on having about 100 candidates contesting seats in his party's name. Some of these will be going head-to-head against the Président's candidates.

He is not being treated kindly by the loyal troops of the brand-new UMP, which is basically why he will be competing against them instead of with them.

UMP loyalists are saying he has crossed a 'yellow line' he is not supposed to cross - whatever this means - and others are saying he is maintaining his party's independence solely to be in a position to run for president again in 2007.

Other UMP stalwarts are issuing dire warnings, saying Bayrou will ensure the election of leftist or Front National candidates, which is not smoothing things over. Attempts at reconciliations seem to have failed at the time the candidate lists are to be closed, tonight.

United Left?

On the street, for every UMP handbill that gets pressed into my hands, I get five from left-wing parties. Not only this, leftist handbills are printed on A4-sized paper, while those of the UMP are half the size.

In my own voting district, the 11thphoto: lawn temporarily closed, luxembourg circumscription of Paris, former 'Greens' environment minister Yves Cochet is leading the list, with Pierre Castagnou who was recently elected as Socialist Mayor of the 14th, as companion deputy-candidate.

Their handbill also carries the logo of the Radical-Left party, which unfortunately sports a big 'R' on it. Regardless ofthis, they have their troops on the street in force.

The sign says this lawn is temporarily closed.
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