Vote vultures hover over Tapie's bones

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The vultures are out in force this weekend, disputing the remains of Bernard Tapie's political power base - his parliamentary constituency of Gardanne near Marseille. The by-election, to be held tomorrow, was declared after Mr Tapie, showman turned football manager turned politician, was forced to resign his seat after losing his appeals against a fraud conviction and bankruptcy.

But Mr Tapie's resignation left problems - the main one being how to prevent the seat falling to the extreme right National Front, giving it its first seat in the present parliament. To keep the seat, the left has parachuted in 'tough but tender' Bernard Kouchner, a minister in the last Socialist government and founder of the charity Medecins sans Frontieres. The two other candidates are the local Euro-MP from the Gaullist right and the Communist mayor of Gardanne. Mary Dejevsky - Paris

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