...Continued from page 1

Why the Left Won

Right–wing parties still have a large majority of deputies in the Assembly National, won in the national elections in 2002 that returned Jacques Chirac to the office of Président of France. The centre–right also controls the Senat.

But the elections in 2002 were marred by a miscalculation by voters. In the first–round of voting they gave a slight edge to National Front leader Jean–Marie Le Pen, which eliminated Socialist Lionel Jospin as a presidential candidate. For the second–round, leftist voters had no choice but to support Jacques Chirac – in order to deny Le Pen power.

This came after a period of so–called 'cohabitation,' composed of Chirac as a right–wing Président, with a legislature run by the Socialists and their allies, including Communists and Greens.

Since the right–wing has been back in power they have been busily 'reforming' France's encrustedphoto: towards concorde, tuileries methods of operation, with the goal of creating a France that has a conservative ideology – one that is supposed to be more in tune with free–market capitalism and mondo–globalization.

In the Tuileries on Sunday.

The problem with this is, a majority of French voters didn't vote in 2002 for right–wing methods of achieving this goal. Many in France – excepting the traditional ten to 15 percent of ultra right–wing voters who would prefer turning France back into something it never was – agree that 'reforms' are necessary.

But to a majority of the French, 'reforms' are not synonymous with reducing or cutting back social benefits gained only with difficulty over a long period of time.

Many residents of France have been adversely affected by the 'reforms' instituted over the last two years by the government, led by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Just to cite one example, a quarter–million unemployed had their benefits reduced to nothing on 1. January of this year – with nothing immediately in place to take up the slack.

'Reform' of unemployment benefits is a major goal of the French employer's federation – which seems to be heard clearly by the right–wing government. More 'reform' in this area brought on conflict with the performers and technicians who work in the entertainment sector – which caused last summer's cancellation of many important festivals in France. This conflict remains unresolved.

Last night, politicians arriving for their turn in front of the TV cameras of France–3, found themselves being greeted by the still–active entertainment–industry strikers.

Currently at odds with the government and its 'reforms' are teachers, hospital workers, scientists and researchers, and firefighters – who demonstrated in Paris on Thursday, while talks failed that would have allowed them to retire at 55 because they have 'dangerous jobs.'

When the firemen heard that the talks had gotten nowhere, they scuffled with the CRS anti–mutiny police – who may have the classification of 'dangerous jobs.'

What's Jacques To Do?

As of tonight, the indications are that the Président will retain Jean– Pierre Raffarin as Primephoto: pont alexandre, peniches Minister. There has been a lot of coming and going between the Matignon where the Prime Minister works, and the Elysée Palace, where the Président presides.

The Pont Alexandre III – the 'Bridge of the Week.'

As one of France–2's reporters put it, 'Raffarin wants to continue with the 'unpopular' reforms.' If this is the case, it is an obvious indication that he has no intention of ever running for the office of Président of France – because he has enough of a majority in the Assembly National to bulldoze the 'reforms' through – against the will of a majority of the French.

So there are no firm decisions tonight. At the Elysée Palace, it is thought that the necessary announcements need to be made no later than Thursday because of a presidential trip. Mystery reigns at Matignon.

One right–wing spokesman summed it all up. "It's a nightmare for the right." For everyone else, it's wait–and–see.

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