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Election row leads to free parking

Presidential election good news for motorists near Lyon  

LYON, France -- Motorists in part of France will be able to park where they want with impunity thanks to a political spat.

The mayor of Villefranche-sur-Saone, near the southeastern city of Lyon, has said motorists will not be fined for illegal parking in the run-up to the French presidential election beginning next month.

The move is an attempt to steal the thunder of the incoming president who has traditionally declared an amnesty on parking tickets as an unofficial "thank you" to voters.

But the president's move penalises those honest citizens who have already paid and encourages some motorists to avoid buying a ticket in the knowledge that it will become null and void.

France decides 2002 

Mayor Jean-Jacques Pignard says he is attempting to thwart such "scandalous" behaviour. In protest he has ordered a ban on issuing parking tickets until after this spring's presidential election.

"We promise impunity to motorists?" the mayor told The Associated Press. "Fine, everyone can park wherever they want. We won't say anything to them."

The election takes place in two rounds, on April 21 and May 5.




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