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The BBC's James Coomarasamy
"The Socialists have the keys to the Paris town hall"
 real 56k

Monday, 19 March, 2001, 01:45 GMT
Socialists win Paris vote
Bertrand Delanoe
Delanoe's victory got a warm welcome from supporters
Municipal elections in France have come to an end with the country's socialist left party overthrowing 130 years of right-wing rule in Paris.


Today Parisians have freely decided in favour of a change of power in the capital

Bertrand Delanoe
Socialist Bertrand Delanoe, one of France's few openly gay politicians, claimed a victory for "courage and reason" as he was declared the capital's first left-wing leader since 1871.

The left are also well-placed to take France's third city, Lyon, which has also been a traditional right-wing bastion for many years.

Election results in Paris
Paris turns red: The map slowly changes as results come in
Socialist Gerard Colomb appeared to be heading for victory over Charles Millon, running on a joint centrist and Gaullist ticket.

But in voting across the rest of France the right seemed to have maintained overall control, also retaining France's second city of Marseilles and fourth city, Toulouse, after tight contests.

Blow for president

Mr Delanoe's victory in Paris against Philippe Seguin, the candidate for the right-wing RPR, signified a powerful rejection of the city's existing system of government, which is closely associated with President Jacques Chirac, who served as mayor for 18 years.

Jean Tiberi
Defeated mayor of Paris Jean Tiberi had little to smile about
Mr Delanoe's left-wing alliance is expected to win 91 of the 163 seats on the Paris council, with the RPR gaining 57.

Mr Chirac is expected to run in next year's presidential elections against Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, and a defeat for the right in what was his political power-base is certain to harm his campaign.

'Good harvest'

But the shine was somewhat taken off the historic victories in Paris and Lyon as Mr Jospin's left-wing coalition lost several former left-wing strongholds.

Toulouse Socialists
In Toulouse, the result wasn't what Socialist supporters wanted
"It's a good harvest for the right and the tree of Paris is hiding the forest of our success," Alain Madelin, head of the right-wing Liberal Democracy (DL), said on the TF1 television channel.

Education Minister Jack Lang accepted defeat in the central town of Blois, where he had been mayor since 1989.

And in the south-eastern town of Avignon, Employment Minister Elisabeth Guigou failed in her attempt to take the town.

Catherine Trautmann
Socialist mayor of Strasbourg Catherine Trautmann lost the election
Former Culture Minister Catherine Trautmann lost the eastern city of Strasbourg and the socialists also lost Rouen, Orleans, Nimes and Quimper.

The overall turnout for the municipal elections was good, with some 69% of France's 40 million eligible voters casting their ballots.

The elections took place in 36,500 cities, towns and villages across France.

The poll was the first to take place under a new law which requires party lists to contain an equal number of male and female candidates in any town with a population of more than 3,500.

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See also:

14 Mar 01 | Europe
Paris right cuts 11th-hour deal
09 Mar 01 | Europe
Parisians air their views
09 Mar 01 | Europe
Paris set for revolution
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