Bill to ban far-right candidates from Prud'hommes elections

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Martine Aubry, France's Minister for Employment and Solidarity, announced that she will be introducing a bill, as early as January 1998, to ban far-right candidates at the next elections to the Prud'hommesindustrial tribunals, to be held in 2002.

Since the beginning of 1997, the extreme-right National Front (Front national) party has made no secret of its intention to contest the elections to the conseils de prud'hommes, France's elected industrial tribunal s (FR9710171F). In March, the five trade union organisations deemed representative of the private-sector workforce embarked on steps to have the rules governing Prud'hommeselections altered by the Labour Ministry, to prevent candidates supported by the National Front from running (FR9703133N).

After the deadline for applications as candidates, at the end of November 1997, the unions contend that the CFNT (Confédération française nationale du travail) has established 125 slates in the employees' electoral college. The CFNT was created on 20 October, and all the slates supported by the National Front are being put forward under its auspices. The extreme right has a two-pronged objective: to "make inroads into the electoral support of the so-called representative organisations"; and to "establish itself in professional circles".

The unions have contested the legality of the CFNT's slates. So far, conflicting judgments have been made in the courts. Some hold that the slates are invalid either because they were not handed in according to existing regulations, or because the principle of "national preference" is contrary to the obligation for all judges in the Prud'hommestribunals to carry out their functions without discrimination on grounds of race, religion and so on. The majority of decisions however, have ruled that no legal opposition can be mounted unless a CFNT candidate is elected.

Martine Aubry, the current Minister for Employment and Solidarity, has announced that she will be introducing a bill as early as January 1998 to make sure that "a party supporting theories unworthy of both the French republican tradition and any social democracy will not be able to put forward slates". This legislation will apply to the next Prud'hommeselections in 2002.

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