This mural is in the town where I live – La Roche sur Foron. There is also another one in the old part of town.
Mathis was a French car manufacturer.
France will hold Regional elections on March 14th and 21st. If polls are correct the ruling UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire) of President Sarkozy will suffer much the same defeat as in 2004, when the party lost 20 of the 22 regions of Metropolitan France. It’s even possible (but a long shot) that the UMP will lose one of the two regions it now controls: Alsace or Corsica. The two main reasons for the predicted rout: are the poor French economy and that French voters typically vote against the party in power in regional and local elections.
The left opposition has managed to stay together and is helped by the fact that voting will take place over two rounds. This allows the two largest left parties: the Socialists and Europe Écologie to run candidate lists independently in the first round and then fuse in the second to win a majority or plurality. The one exception to this unity is with the Languedoc-Roussillon region. There Regional President Georges Frêche has been kicked out of the Socialist Party. The Socialists are running a competing list but aren’t expected to win. The Socialists were supporting Frêche until he stated that ex-prime minister (and Socialist) Laurent Fabius, didn’t look Catholic enough to vote for. Fabius was baptized in the Catholic Church but has Jewish roots. This isn’t the first time Frêche has made comments like this. At one point he stated the French national Football (Soccer) team had too many blacks. After this comment Frêche was thrown out of the Socialist party, but politically supported. He is very popular in his region. But after the Fabius comments Frêche lost official Socialist support.
The campaign started slowly, but then the mud started to fly. In the Île-de-France region Socialist candidate, Ali Soumaré was accused of being a criminal who had committed five crimes. It turns out that Soumaré did have a run in with the law 10 years ago. He was convicted of theft and assault. Soumaré had already admitted to this. Nothing was ever proven about the other crimes; and at least one isn’t true. The Christian Science Monitor has a good story on this topic.
This then prompted the Socialist to bring up the supposed criminal past of two UMP candidates. The two have threatened to sue for slander, as has Soumaré.
For more information see - French Regional Elections 2010
As would be expected in the Alps, where I live, we have two local athletes that took part in the recent Winter Olympics: Laure Barthelemy (local ski club member) and Jean-Marc Gaillard (born in Annemasse and lives in Eteaux, local towns not far from my home). Both Barthelemy and Gaillard are cross country skiers. Eteaux had a block party with a big screen TV and there was a banner and cube in La Roche.
One thing about the French they aren’t the types to sit idly by and let the powers to be, push them around. From the ever present strikes, to roads being blocked by farmers, the French push back when they think they are being pushed around.
Case in point my son’s school - Mallinjoud. I was informed in the first week of February by flyer (there was also a banner and sign in front of the school) that Mallinjoud would be reorganized and there would be one less class starting with the 2010/11 school year. I then had a look at the web site of the ADEP, a local grassroots organization, who sent the flyer and is organizing against the closure. The web site pointed out that a nearby private school would be expanding - by one class. In France private schools are funded in large part by the state. For example the education ministry pays teacher salaries. Local education authorities have denied that a neighboring private school would be expanded. But the threat to reduce the number of classes at Mallinjoud is real.
The reason for the class closure: there will be ten fewer children for the 2010/11 school year. Along with the class closure, class size at Mallinjoud would be increased from 24 to 26.
The ADEP led a demonstration (there was the threat of an occupation but I’m not sure if that happened or not) at Mallinjoud on February 8th, submitted a petition and met with the local school inspector. Along with this meeting, the ADEP met with the mayor and an Education Ministry representative, French mobilization in action! A decision on the closure at Mallinjoud was to be made on February 9th but it’s believed that no decision has yet been taken. So far the mobilization has worked.
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