All Together Now

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Right Turn!

Paris:- Monday, 10. June 2002:- Less than two-thirds of French electors went to polling stations yesterday. They gave a strong edge to centre-right parties, with Président Jacques Chirac's coalition UMP group scooping up slightly more than a third of all votes cast.

For the many candidates who did not gain outright majorities on Sunday, the run-off election will take place in the second round of voting next Sunday.

In most cases this will pit two candidates against each other. But any candidate who received more the 12.5% in the first round will be eligible, so some few of next week's contests will be three-way affairs.

Regardless of the final outcome, the centre-right is projected to gain a comfortable if not huge majority of seats in the next legislative assembly.

The centre-right benefitted from a massive reverse for the extreme-right Front National party, especially when compared to its scores in the recent presidential elections.

Added to this was the continuing slide of the Communist Party, lack of enthusiasm for 'Les Verts,' a sudden disinterest in the extreme-left parties, and the near disappearance of the CPNT, the party of the sports hunters and fishermen.

The Socialist Party also benefitted from these reversals, but since some involved their allies - the Communists and 'Les Verts' - the result was not favorable to the left overall.

The French who voted, seem ready to give the Président the majority he has asked for, so that he will have complete freedom of action. Since 1997 this seems to be the tendency in Europe too - a change of color from rose of the left to the blue of the right.

Modest Winners?

No more than a thousand supporters were assembled at the Maison de la Chimie, headquarters of the president's UMP group, when the poll results began to arrive. At first, they judged them worth white wine rather than Champagne.

Most UMP candidates were in their own electoral districts, but the current Prime Ministerphoto: palais bourbon, assembly national Jean-Pierre Raffarin, showed up 30 minutes after the polls closed to announce that the Président's electorial promises - would be kept.

The Palais Bourbon - where the Assembly National meets.

The Président himself, voted in the morning at Sarran in the department of Corrèze, together with his wife, Bernadette Chirac.

Oddly, the leader of the Socialist Party, François Hollande, also voted in Corrèze - at Tulle, where he is also mayor. He did not win outright and faces a strong opponent next Sunday.

Round Two - Next Sunday

Easy races are expected for former leftist majority leaders Laurent Fabius, Dominique Strass-Kahn, Yves Cochet, Noël Mamère, Elizabeth Guigou, Daniel Valliant and Jack Lang. Difficulties are faced by former ministers Martine Aubry and Dominique Voynet, and Communist Party leader, Robert Hue.

Right-wing luminaries facing easy races next weekend are Alain Juppé, Jean-Louis Debré, Patrick Devedjian, Philippe Douste-Blazy, Alain Madelin, Jean Tiberi and Jacques Toubon.

Go-it-alone François Bayrou, leader of the centrist UDF, should also make it. He declined to merge his party with the Président's UMP steamroller, and seems on his way to lead a small group of UDF deputies into the assembly.

Ex-socialist, now 'Pôle Républicain leader, Jean-Pierre Chevénement faces a difficult contest in the Territoire de Belfort.

On the extreme left, postman Olivier Besancenot was eliminated in yesterday's round one, as was the ultra right-wing FN dissident, Bruno Mégret.

The FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen wasn't in the race, but had a lot to say anyway about the disenfranchisement of the 11-12% who voted nationally for the FN. Few of this party's candidates managed to leap the 12.5% hurdle in their electoral districts.

Before yesterday's ballot, Mr. Le Pen was predicting that there would be 'more than 300' FN candidates in the second round. Instead, seven FN candidates will be taking part in three-way races next Sunday, plus 17 two-way contests against centre-right contenders and another seven confrontations against leftist candidates.

The anti-European sporting hunters and fishermen have a party, the CPNT, which did well in the last European elections and slightly less well during the recent presidential election. Yesterday, their leader Jean Saint-Josse was completely knocked out of the running.

At Cintegabelle in the Haute-Garonne, ex-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin turned up to vote in person for Socialist candidate Patrick Lamasle, which helped him to get the top score yesterday. Otherwise, Mr. Jospin is following the sports news on TV, of which there is quite a lot.

Numbers, Numbers

There are 577 seats in the French National Assembly. For yesterday's balloting, there were 8,446 candidates in the running for them. In Paris alone, in 21 voting districts, there were 464 candidates.

In order to reduce financial hanky-panky, three sets of legislation concerning campaign financing became laws between 1990 and 1995. Together, they are a bit complicated.

State aid for candidates can amount to 42,560euro 3 sign, plus 17 cents per inhabitant living in the electoral district.

Half of the state aid is based proportionallyphoto: election posters, blues over reds on the number of votes received, but only for parties that have at least 50 candidates. The other half is divided between the parties as a function of how many legislators have been elected.

Candidates are allowed to receive donations of up to 4600euro 3 sign, but these must be from private persons and not companies. Donations over 150euro 3 sign must be made by cheque. Cash donations cannot exceed 20% of the allowed expenses for the electoral district.

The state also reimburses the costs of campaign advertising - such as the cost of printing posters - but only for candidates who receive at least five percent of the votes in the first round. Other expenses are also paid back, under complicated formulas.

Then there are three reporting conditions to be met, and if the votes received are under five percent, or the books don't balance, then the candidate is out of luck.

Finally, there is a penalty clause for not having equality of the sexes - and no parties in the running yesterday had this. This deduction is another complicated formula.

Another Number - the 11th

My quartier is in Paris' 11th electoral district. There are 53,803 residents registered to vote. Yesterday there were 20 candidates. Together they received 37,965 votes, with a corresponding abstention rate of 28.8%.

Sixteen of the candidates each received less than five percent of the ballots cast. They have to pay for their campaigns themselves.

Of the four remaining, three will be in the race next Sunday because they all got more than 12.5% of the votes.

Nicole Catala is the outgoing deputy. She ran on a RPR ticket, which is Jacques Chirac's former party, but was not chosen to be the candidate for the Président's new party, the UMP. Madame Catala received 13.7% of the votes cast.

She is reported to have said that she will make way for Dominique Versini of the UMP who is in number two place, and if the UDF voters of Yves Ogé join in, they should be able to count on more votes than Yves Cochet of 'Les Verts,' whophoto: street demo, 24 april is supported by the Socialists, and will possibly get the PC's votes too.

But who will get what from public funds, still remains to be seen - as well as the outcome of this particular race.

Voter turnout was slightly higher in Paris than in the rest of the country.

Only four candidates were elected to represent Paris electoral districts in the National Assembly in the first round yesterday - voters in the remaining 17 electoral districts have go back to the polling stations next Sunday.

Le Parisien's guess is that when the smoke clears a week from today, the right will lose a seat to end up with 11, and the left will gain a seat, going up to ten.

Internet Life

New Paris Web Site

Paris has a new Web URL and it is http://www.paris.fr/. This started up on 22. March during the Fête de l'Internet here and was presented as 'Paris Ville Numérique,' which has been shortened to 'PARVI.'

Behind the name the action is supposed to involve providing Internet access for all residents, in centres called 'Espaces Publics Numériques' - or 'EPN' for short - which are signalled by a logo for 'PARVI.' Two centres are already in operation.

I took a quick look at the new Web site, and it seems to be a work-in-progress, with some of the same material as the older http://www.paris-france.org/ site, but without any sign of English, because 'www.paris.fr' is supposed to provide services for residents.

Sports News

Tennis - Spain vs Spain

Spain won the men's singles at this year's International tennis tournament at Roland Garros. Actually, I should say Catalonia's Albert Costa won it, because this tournament is not like the Davis Cup, when country teams compete.

Tennis - Williams vs Williams

Serena Williams beat her sister Venus Williams at this year's Grand Slam Open at Roland Garros. The real winner, as seen on TV, couldn't lose. This was their mom, Mrs. Williams. Their dad, Richard Williams, stayed away so nobody could say there was any 'arrangement' about the outcome.

World Cup

France runs a risk of getting eliminated from the World Cup tournament if it doesn't win by at least two goals more than Denmark in their match coming up tomorrow.

For this reason, the French team is likely to unveil its secret weapon, Zinedane Zidane. The Parisien is fond of saying that this player is the number one worldwide, and has hinted that he has been held in reserve with the excuse that one of the muscles on one of his kicking legs - he has two - has a pimple on it.

Shown on TV in training, Zindane's left upper leg seems to indeed be wrapped in some sort of bandage. Eagle-eyedphoto: moto, champs elysees French fans saw him gingerly tapping the football, so all that is really known is that he is able to stand up.

Final training sessions have been held under a media blackout, lending credence to the 'secret weapon' theory. French strategists also point out that Italy came from far behind in 1982, to win the championship and we should think the 'Bleus' will do this too although nobody on the team is Italian.

Another favorite sport is known here as riding down the Champs-Elysées on a Saturday afternoon.

For the other crucial matches, there has been huge attendance at the outdoor giant screens set up at the Place de la l'Hôtel de Ville in Paris and out at the esplanade at La Défense.

Metropole's exclusive photo of the crowd at the Hôtel de Ville last Thursday disappeared into the virtual cosmic code space, so you will have to imagine what Paris' city hall looks like when 5000 fans are standing in front of it, cheering or groaning.

Just-Before-Summer Weather Warnings

Paris is not an exciting weather area and lately the weather has been duller than usual. Little reason then, to pay attention to France- Météo's warnings, unless you are somewhere else in France.

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 late 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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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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