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France

Yearbook 1997

According to Digopaul, France is a country located in western Europe. On April 21, President Jacques Chirac disbanded Parliament and announced new elections for the end of May-June. He had not had to hold elections until the late winter of 1998 but wanted to avoid an election campaign in the midst of the delicate decisions on the EU currency union EMU that must be taken in early 1998. Opinion figures suggested that the ruling parties would retire but still retain their majority.

1997 France

1997 FranceThe president was wrong. Even after the first round of elections, even the unpopular Prime Minister Alain Juppé's resignation, regardless of the end result, could not prevent a disaster election for the government parties. These lost more than 200 seats and saw their representation in the National Assembly halved. Not least, the decline was due to the government losing votes to the right-wing party National Front. However, the electoral system disadvantaged the front, which despite 14.9% of the votes only got a single mandate. The Socialists with allied small parties increased from 63 seats to 273 and the Communists also made strong progress.

The new Prime Minister was appointed Socialist leader Lionel Jospin, who in his government included two Communists and one representative each for the Greens, the Radical Socialist Party and the Citizens' Movement. Juppé was not only allowed to leave the government but also resigned as party leader of the Collection for the Republic (RPR, Rassemblement pour la République). He was succeeded by the outgoing President of the National Assembly Philippe Séguin.

Jospin promised that the lowest allowable salary of the equivalent of just over SEK 8,300. per month would immediately be increased by 4%, that 700,000 new jobs for young unemployed would be created and that by 2000 the working week would be reduced from 39 hours to 35 with retained wages. The Socialist Government also promised to build 100,000 new homes and to stop the sale of state-owned enterprises.

However, the budget situation was strained, with a deficit of about 3.5% of GDP, and the government needed to cut the equivalent of SEK 40 billion. to meet the requirement for accession to EMU, a goal that the government rather aimed at achieving in 1998 rather than resorting to austerity measures that would slow down growth. In its first budget, the government tried to reduce the deficit mainly by raising taxes for large companies and lowering defense costs. The military duty will be abolished and a professional army of 350,000 men will be built up until 2002, which is a reduction of troops by 30%.

The low-paid transport workers marked their dissatisfaction with wages and pension rules with a one-day strike in January and another in May, before they subjected the government to its first major review in November. For one week, truck drivers blocked roads, ports and oil refineries before their largest trade union organization CFDT approved an agreement on, among other things. successive increase of the minimum wage to 10,000 francs until 2000.

The trial of 87-year-old Maurice Papon propelled a self-examining debate on the French settlement with the war years. Papon was accused of being responsible for sending 1,560 Jews from Bordeaux to German extermination camps. However, during the trial, evidence emerged that, on the contrary, he had managed to save hundreds of Jews from deportation. Papon made a career after the war as a well-adjusted Gaullist, became police chief in Paris and budget minister in 1978. Another sensitive issue was why Papon was also not charged with killing up to 300 Algerians by the Paris police during an anti-war demonstration in 1961, when he was the city's police chief.

Notorious terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos or Schakalen, was sentenced in December to life in prison for three police murders in France in the 1970s.

In December, Parliament also softened immigration laws, which, despite widespread protests, were sharpened in February by the then conservative majority. However, the conservative-dominated Senate protested that became easier to obtain political asylum and French citizenship and demanded a referendum on immigration issues.

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