Friday, May 18, 2007

Local political meeting

Before today, the first and last time I attended a political meeting in France was in 1969, when a dynamic young political figure named Michel Rocard was campaigning in the Yvelines département near Paris. This morning, at Choranche, it was a more modest affair. The Socialist member of parliament, André Vallini, was accompanied by his vice-candidate, Jean-Michel Revol, and the local councilor, Bernard Perazio (my former neighbor, whom I've known for years).

In the audience, besides a journalist-photographer from St Marcellin, the wife of the mayor of Choranche and me, there were three other people. The major theme of the discussions (introduced by the mayor's wife) was the possibility of serving bio food in the school canteen.

Vallini, a 50-year-old professional lawyer, is well-known throughout France since his much-publicized role as president of a parliamentary commission, last year, that inquired into a great miscarriage of justice known as the Outreau Affair. A group of irreproachable citizens had been wrongly accused of sexual misconduct, and condemned in an outrageous fashion by a biased, stubborn and immature judge, as a consequence of dubious evidence extorted from children. Vallini's TV appearances at the head of this commission earned him the reputation of an outstanding individual, capable of soaring above partisan politics. Indeed, if Ségolène Royal had been elected, he would have surely been named Minister of Justice. Meanwhile, a jury of 120 political journalists recently elected Vallini as the "parliamentarian of the year".

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