Relaxed Jospin opens run for Elyse

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The Independent Online
Paris - The Socialist Party candidate, Lionel Jospin, opened his challenge for the French presidency yesterday, with a message of modernity, unity and integrity. Scenting perhaps that the political wind could now be behind him, a confident Mr Jospin laughed and joked with the crowd of reporters, writes Mary Dejevsky.

Mr Jospin, 57, who has a mop of grey-white hair and the manner of an enthusiastic professor, used the venue of his loft-style campaign headquarters - a former fashion studio on the left bank - to emphasise his modern style. He then introduced his campaign organisation - a large and complicated structure, the main component of which is a 58-member political council.

He has designated five spokesmen "for the sake of diversity" - two women and three men - and has a parliamentary group, a campaign administrator, as well as a "strategic response group" on the model of the Clinton campaign in the United States.

The political council, chaired by Mr Jospin's rival for the nomination, Henri Emmanuelli, is divided into subject sections.

There were some notable absentees: Jacques Delors and Michel Rocard, two of the party's most senior figures.

Mr Jospin explained their absence in somewhat abstract terms, leaving the impression that it would have been better if they had been there - especially Mr Delors, who is to chair Mr Jospin's support committee

Introducing his priorities, Mr Jospin gave as the first principle of his campaign "the independence of the judiciary" - and on his reputation for integrity. Other priorities were the reform of the structures of power and pay. He gave chapter and verse of the projected funding for the campaign.

To laughter, he also gave details of his own assets. He said he owned no property, renting a flat in Paris and Toulouse. He had no capital, no shares, and had engaged in no large financial transactions, though he declined to disclose his salary.

His sole luxury, he said, was his Renault 19 Cabriolet.