Corridors of Power: France’s Also-Rans, Euro Zone Additions, and More

LUNATIC FRINGE COULD BLOCK THE ROYAL FLUSH -- The French press calls them the "eight little Indians," and they are the lesser candidates left behind after Sunday's first round in France's presidential elections. They could only ever hope to receive a handful of votes -- 1 or 2 percent each -- but those votes were siphoned off from the main candidates, mainly the Socialist Ségolène Royal. Still, by the May 6 runoff their names will be all but forgotten.

Because of the heavy state subsidy, you don't have to be rich to run for office in France. Olivier Besancenot, the Revolutionary Communist League candidate who got 4.5 percent of the vote Sunday, is a Paris mailman. He called for a further reduction of the working week from 35 to 32 hours, and wanted a law making dismissal from work illegal. José Bové, famous for having wrecked a McDonald's outlet, wanted to nationalize the water supply and to abolish the sales tax.

Trotskyite candidate Arlette Laguiller, 66, who in 1974 was the first woman presidential candidate and has been trying in every election since, says this is her last bid. French psephologists reckon that her 5.7 percent of the vote was what did in Lionel Jospin, the Socialist candidate who didn't make the second round in 2002. But in this election she scraped by with 1.5 percent.

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