Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister

It is election time in France.

In two rounds (11th March and 18th March) French men and women are going to vote to elect their local authorities, notably their mayors. And this time it is not only the French men and women who will have the right to vote. In effect thanks to new rules included in the Treaty of Maastricht [1], for the first time citizens of the member countries of the European Union living in France will be able to help to elect the political representatives of their cities.

It is a development which the prime minister, Lionel Jospin welcomed when we met him on the occasion of his visit to Lyon to support the collected candidates of the left, of which he is the leader.

It does not concern all foreigners, it concerns members of the European Union.

We find that it is a very good thing that in the local elections this vote is possible for the men and women who really live in the city and then it is a way of bringing to life the European Reality.

But up to now, only 9% of Europeans living in the large towns of France have signed up. Is there an absence of publicity for the new law? For Lionel Jospin it is not about a lack of interest but about a new dimension of integration, the European dimension.

It does not seem however that the number of inscriptions was really very high which shows that included in it, these citizens of the European Union living in France have not been taken into account, but I know for example that in Paris in our party there are included there some candidates, I have seen them recently, Italians for example.

The elections come at a very sensitive time for Mr Jospin who is surely going to put himself forward as a candidate for the presidential election next year. It is an opportunity then for electioneering but be careful, you must respect local sensitivities. Some do not want that a stranger to their town involve himself in their business for his own benefit. Lionel Jospin justifies himself:

Personally I am not campaigning. These are municipal elections and regional elections and moreover you must not forget the regional elections [2]. I make some jumps to be at the side of candidates. That is all. And I do them in the conditions which are those of democracy and of meeting the people, that’s it!

That does not prevent him from giving his opinion, while passing, on the town of Lyon.

I believe that in the three districts that the parties of the left have had the responsibility of managing since 1995 that they have been managed well. I believe that Gerard Collomb has made, personally, in the 9th a quite exceptional demonstration of economic revival in revitalising a neighbourhood which was a bit adrift and I believe that this team, if the man and women of Lyon give them their vote of confidence can bring new developments. I believ that it will follow the policy of developing the town of Lyon as a large European metropolis, that, certainly. And I believe that the team assembled around Gerard Collomb with its skills, with its economic skills especially, but also with the representatives of local groups, are up to the job of pursuing this action and that moreover the State, the government, including the outgoing local authority, have supported because by very large investments, we are showing that we wish to favour this role of Lyon as a regional European metropolis. But I think that this team can bring something more and something new. That is to say more focussed attention, and perhaps more humanitarian, to the life of the people of Lyon, not just the influence of Lyon or the power of Lyon, but the way people live in it at the level of the school, at the level of the environment, of the city, of security also which for me personally is a real theme of the left. And then, perhaps, a style of management closer to the people, closer to the reality of the neighbourhoods, of the collective life.

Surrounded by smiling candidates, both men and women, on a barge on the Rhone, the movements of this distinguished visitor are choreographed with the precision of a ballet…

Please, I think… yes, that’s it… it will be necessary to do, perhaps, the photos later…

The photos, we can do them elsewhere outdoors with the television shots and all that will be better, that will be very good. Right? Good!

Off we go?

On you go!

Lionel Jospin – the reason for your visit to Lyon today…

And the ballet continues. The result of so much effort will be known in the coming weeks. Be at the coming election.

[1] The Treaty of Masstricht – 1992. An important treaty signed in Masstricht in Holland establishing the European Union and the Euro currency.

[2] In 1982, France introduced a system of 22 regional authorities each covering about 4 departments which still exist.

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