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by Ludovic Thomas

Local Elections Ahead in Paris: Our Special Report

Translated Friday 7 March 2008, by Isabelle Métral

As the French capital’s centrist Modem branch clearly leans to the right, it is unlikely to pad out the leftist lists of candidates on the second round of the municipal elections, let alone contribute to a leftist municipal government during the mandate. Paris ’s Greens have staked their all on autonomy.

More often than not the heads of the centrist former presidential candidate François Bayrou’s local teams had been sitting on the last but one Paris Council before being defeated in the 2001 elections. This is true of Marielle de Sarnez, their leader, who was then beaten in the 14th arrondissement, or of Didier Bariani, the UMP (then Chirac’s party) mayor of the 20th arrondissement during two mandates between 1983 and 2001. Corinne Lepage, who was minister under Chirac’s premiership between 1995 and 1997 heads the Modem list in the 12th arrondissement where she hopes to obliterate the lamentable impression left after Jean-Marie Cavada rallied the president’s party a few months after supporting François Bayrou’s candidacy in the presidential election.

Other rightist councillors who were elected in 2001 and sat with the opposition are now heading lists, like Paule Champetier de Ribes in the first arrondissement, Erice Azières, the former president of the young centrist movement in the 13th arrondissement, or Elisabeth de Fresquet in the 15th.

Paris’s Greens have staked their all on autonomy.

With two of their four deputies having been elected in Paris last year , the Greens have made a risky bet: to present separate lists for this year’s municipal elections. As they did in 1995 and 2001, when they got above 12% of the vote. Will the March 2008 elections confirm their following in the capital? Or will the candidacy of Denis Baupin, their leader on the City Council, against the incumbent socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë, to whom he plays second, perplex voters who are satisfied with the incumbent mayor’s track record? In recent days, relations between the two men became rather strained over the possibility that the leftist alliance might be extended to Modem candidates between the first and the second rounds. “The Greens are the only list that says clearly what it means to do for the second round: what we want is an agreement with Bertrand Delanoë and no one else,” the Paris Greens’ leader explains. The mayor’s answer to this is “an alliance with the Greens on a clear platform for the second round": the Greens will be invited to “recover their seats with the majority.”

As far as platforms go, Denis Baupin announces the building of 9,000 social flats a year, the transformation of the périphérique (circular road) into a resident-friendly boulevard or again the setting up of decentralized “participative budgets” in the arrondissements. Among the Greens’ supporters is José Bové, who also supports some “alternative” leftist lists in three arrondissements.

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