- Title: FRANCE: NATIONAL FRONT IS SURPRISINGLY POPULAR IN ALSACE
- Date: 19th May 1997
- Summary: SAVERNE AREA, NORTH OF STRASBOURG, FRANCE (MAY 19, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. GV SAVERNE VALLEY/ VINEYARDS (2 SHOTS) 0.08 BISCHWILLER, FRANCE (MAY 19, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 2. LV PEOPLE CYCLING PAST HOTEL/ SV "VINS D'ALSACE" SIGN (2 SHOTS) 0.16 3. LV EXT TOWN HALL/ CU ELECTION POSTERS (2 SHOTS) 0.22 4. LV TURKISH WOMEN LOOKING OUT OF WINDOWS 0.25 STRASBOURG, FRANCE (MAY 19, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 5. GV CANAL/ LV PEOPLE WALKING OVER BRIDGE (2 SHOTS) 0.33 6. SLV STRASBOURG'S SOCIALIST MAYOR CATHERINE TRAUTMAN TALKING TO PEOPLE/ SCU TRAUTMAN SPEAKING ABOUT THE NATIONAL FRONT, SAYING: "THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. THE NATIONAL FRONT HAS ABUSIVELY TAKEN OVER THE MANTLE OF PROTECTOR OF FRENCH PATRIOTISM SO DEAR TO ALSATIANS" (FRENCH) (2 SHOTS) 1.01 SINGRIST, FRANCE (MAY 19, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 7. SV NATIONAL FRONT CANDIDATE YVAN BLOT WALKING THROUGH TOWN, WALKING IN FRONT OF ELECTION POSTERS (2 SHOTS) 1.14 8. SV BLOW SAYING: "PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR VALUES OF PATRIOTISM, ORDER, HONESTY IN POLITICS, AND AGAINST CORRUPTION. IMMIGRATION DOES PLAY A ROLE, BECAUSE THERE ARE ALREADY SOME SMALL PROBLEMS" (FRENCH) 1.52 9. SV PERSON REJECTING NATIONAL FRONT LEAFLET 2.02 BISCHWILLER, FRANCE (MAY 19, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 10. WIDE OF STREET/ LV SHOP WITH FLAGS OUTSIDE (2 SHOTS) 2.17 11. SCU SHOPOWNER SYLVIE LENZ SAYING: "PEOPLE VOTING FOR LE PEN ARE NOT AGAINST IMMIGRANTS, IT'S JUST THAT THEY HAVE HAD ENOUGH, AND THEY WANT TO KEEP MORE OF THEIR MONEY" (FRENCH) 2.38 12. CU FOUNTAIN/ SLV MAN LOOKING AT ELECTION CAMPAIGN POSTERS (2 SHOTS) 2.49 Initials s3, p3 Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Reuters ID: LVAA0XEF8Q5UI6J6TOHPVPDELPA4
- Location: STRASBOURG, BISCHWILLER, SINGRIST, SAVERNE AREA, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:02:56
- Story Text: INTRO: France's border province of Alsace will be under special scrutiny during the nation-wide voting on Sunday to gauge the surprising popularity of rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen in an area where most towns hardly have a foreign inhabitant.
Le Pen's openly xenophobic National Front (FN) has chalked up its best scores in regions of southern France where there is high unemployment and where communities of North African Arab immigrants are sometimes found in the smallest villages.
There are few Arabs in Alsace, though there is a sizeable Turkish minority in large towns. Unemployment rates are among the lowest in France, but Le Pen nonetheless captures up to a third of votes in some areas, twice his national average.
Political scientists, who speak of "Alsatian schizophrenia," suspect the explanation may lie in a turbulent history which saw the province, which now has 1.7 million inhabitants, switch hands several times between France and Germany.
"There's no doubt about it. The National Front has abusively taken over the mantle of protector of French patriotism so dear to Alsatians," says Strasbourg's Socialist mayor Catherine Trautman, the FN's nemisis in the area.
The FN's Yvan Blot is not standing directly against Trautman since the party's scores in Strasbourg itself are only around the national average. He is running instead in the Saverne area north of the city, a region of forests and rolling green farmlands dotted with quaint Hansel-and-Gretel like villages.
There are virtually no foreigners in most of the 162 villages in Blot's constituency of 100,000 inhabitants but the FN chalked up nearly 20 percent of the vote here in the last general elections in 1993.
"Immigration is just a side issue here. What really counts is that this is an area where people believe in traditional values," Blot said. "What people want is respectability to become the norm again," says the bespectacled Blot, 48, whose tweedy, conservative look betrays the senior civil servant he was before entering politics.
Critics say people like Blot present a "soft face" to traditional extreme rightist values and that they are headed for a showdown with rivals in the FN, especially Catholic fundamentalists, for Le Pen's eventual succession.
Extremism doesn't go down well in Alsace and Blot tones down the FN's hard-line, including against European unity which is highly popular here, when he meets possible voters.
Most residents politely take the leaflets handed to them, clearly impressed a candidate should take the trouble to go from door-to-door in every single village in his constituency.
Once in a while a person will quickly draw back his hand and close his door when he realises who the candidate is, just as in some cases, potential voters tell Blot: "We're with you." Blot's is the only one of Le Pen's main aides who was a Gaullist parliamentarian before defecting to the extreme right after a dispute with other Gaullists. An astute observer of French society, Blot agrees many potential Le Pen voters are casting ballots for the FN less in agreement with it than as a protest against the way they feel society is going.
One such person is shopowner Sylvie Lenz. "People voting for Le Pen are not against immigrants, it's just that they have had enough, and they want to keep more of their money."
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Embargoed:3rd June 1997 13:00
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None