March 25, 1998 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on March 25, 1998.
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Recent electoral events in France have been dramatic, even if they have been "formally" inconclusive. Most things in France will be affected by them, "libraries" and "digital libraries" among these. The Front National appears to have gained enormously last week, in prestige and in real political influence.
Historians of the 1920s will be reminded of much in what follows. Anyone who does not think that it all is significant, and alarming, ought to re - read some of that history. These stories tend, for the moment, to get buried in the back of US newspapers... as they did during the '20s...
* Portions of a Reuters dispatch: Pres. Chirac and PM Jospin on making deals with / the dangers of / the importance of the Front National:
"Thursday March 19
PARIS (Reuters) - French President Jacques Chirac on Thursday stepped into a growing fray over the rise of the extremist National Front, calling on politicians not to make deals with the rightist group.
'When you have republican convictions as I do, and as fortunately is the case for the great majority of the French, one cannot make deals...one cannot accept compromises,' he told reporters who asked him about conservative politicians tempted to save political seats by striking deals with the Front.
Chirac's comment, made at a book fair, was his first about last Sunday's nationwide regional elections in which the FN chalked up 15.5 percent, an all-time high which gave it the position of kingmaker in areas where the Left just pipped out mainstream conservatives.
Several conservative regional council presidents stand to lose their positions and are tempted to make deals with Le Pen's party to save them..."
"Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin earlier warned the opposition against alliances with the National Front, saying such links threatened democracy and would damage France's image worldwide."
-- excerpted from Yahoo, which keeps the files for a short time only, at,
-- The full text from the Reuters archive is available from,
-- I have seen estimates of the FN's actual vote returns which range from "15.265%" to "15.9%". I expect this may depend somewhat on count methodology. Fine tuning misses the point, however, as is dramatically illustrated both by Chirac's and Jospin's concerns here and by what follows below.
* Reuters again, a few days later --
"Monday March 23
PARIS (Reuters) - French President Jacques Chirac said on Monday France risked harming its image in a dispute over the anti-foreigner National Front and had to recall its traditions of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Chirac, in a hastily-arranged televised address, said passions had replaced reason in the bitter dispute over the stand conservative parties should take towards the Front.
'The time has come to react,' said Chirac, who tried in vain to convince some conservatives not to make local power deals with the National Front after losing to the left in half of France's regions in a March 15 election.
The Front scored a stunning breakthrough when it helped elect rightwingers in five regions last Friday. The right rejected Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen in his bid on Monday to take over as regional council chairman in Marseille..."
-- excerpted from,
-- Full text from the Reuters archive is available from,
-- This time Reuters correctly, I myself think, calls the electoral result "a stunning breakthrough" for the FN in that it is helping to "elect rightwingers", i.e. in spite of the precise arithmetic of the election and regardless of whether these "rightwingers" call themselves "Front National", formally. Again I appeal to people's knowledge of the 1920's, and to the old French political saying, "If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..."
* And finally today, March 25, a US newspaper's interpretation / reaction --
Mainstream leaders agree on legislation to rein in Le Pen
President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin have joined forces to diminish the far - right's influence on French politics.
Chirac, a conservative, spoke on national television Monday at the height of a political crisis that has put the spotlight on the extreme - rightist National Front, which, the president said, is disgracing France.
The crisis broke out Friday, when the five members of the center - right Union for French Democracy (UDF) accepted National Front support to win control of five of mainland France's 22 regional councils.
That broke a long - standing taboo against working with the party of xenophobic firebrand Jean - Marie Le Pen, which routinely wins about 15 percent of the vote in national elections although he embraces racial inequality and says Nazi gas chambers will be remembered as 'a mere detail of history'.
The bargaining shocked the political establishment and raised fears that the line between the extreme right and the mainstream is diminishing..."
"The heaviest pressure has focused on former Defense Minister Charles Millon, the new Rhone - Alpes council chairman who Chirac personally telephoned to plead in vain against a deal there.
Millon insisted that he cut no deal to win National Front support. But after secretly meeting Front leaders two days before the council election, he issued a statement of principles virtually identical to one put forward by the Front..."
-- excerpted from The San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, March 25, 1998, page C2, Chronicle News Services -- online at,
-- The UDF is the "Union pour la Démocratie Française" -- the party of former President of France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
-- The FN does not win 15% of the national vote in France "routinely". This is something new: last Spring, and now last week. Time was, not so long ago, when the French hotly denied -- to others and to themselves -- that the FN ever would poll more than 7%. In a parliamentary system you do not always need much more than 15% to "win".
-- Much more detail about the Front National may be obtained from,
including links to online resources, a bibliography, and an awesome and fearsome FN periodicals list. This is information best obtained and studied now, before something happens, rather than after - the - fact as we all did during the 1930s.
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