Chirac looks impotent after EU summit defeat
Reuters’s Timothy Heritage explains:
Two crushing failures over Europe have left French President Jacques Chirac looking impotent two years before the end of his presidency, his popularity in freefall and the economy offering no respite.
The European Union’s failure to agree a long-term budget on Friday was a defeat for Chirac, who lost a bruising battle with British Prime Minister Tony Blair three weeks after French voters snubbed him by rejecting the EU’s constitution on May 29.
Chirac, 72, also has little to encourage him on the economy. The big CGT union plans nationwide protests on Tuesday over pay, conditions and 10.2 percent unemployment, and economists doubt the government will attain its growth target this year.
Opposition politicians and political commentators are increasingly talking about a “fin de regne” — the end of Chirac’s reign, or grip on power, after 10 years as president.
Of course, Jacques will blame Tony: Chirac says Blair’s ‘intransigence’ ruined EU summit. While the Financial Times says Chirac in need of de Gaulle’s fortitude, a few days ago Newspapers across Europe have little good to say about France’s choice of prime minister, and now the Jerusalem Post asks, Why de Villepin, of all people?. The Post’s not kind to Dom (emphasis mine):
After the rejection of the European Constitution in France earlier this month, President Jacques Chirac could have either resigned or changed his government. Of course resigning was out of the question because Chirac would then have lost his immunity and most probably ended up in jail on corruption charges. Instead, he fired Premier Raffarin and replaced him with the most anti-American politician in his party: Dominique de Villepin.
In order to assess Chirac’s choice, one has to closely study de Villepin’s history. Indeed, his real name Dominique Marie Francois Rene Galouzeau de Villepin already defines for most people his main trait: obnoxiousness.
. . .
Lastly, when he was asked, just after the beginning of the Iraq war, who he wanted to win the war, he flatly answered: “I don’t know.” In light of this, de Villepin cannot be viewed as just a friend disagreeing with another friend, but rather as someone siding with our enemy. His constant obsession with a multipolar world, a counterweight to US power, and France’s grandeur and prestige in the world are part of the Gallic tradition.
Regarding foreign affairs, Chirac and de Villepin are two sides of the same coin. And the Arab press, especially the daily Al Hayat, rejoiced over the nomination of the “courageous knight” who stood tall against America.
Things are heating up in France, alright, including the temperatures. The other day France2 news talked about the 2003 heat wave, where 15,000 people died of heat and neglect. They showed one older woman, sitting in her apartment, where it was 90oF, receiving one of those little battery-powered fans we give kids for birthday party favors. It doesn’t bide well. The 2003 catastrophe became a political one as well for the center-right government of French President Jacques Chirac, accused of responding too slowly to the crisis.
This week, in typical Jacques fashion, Chirac says France not gendarme of Africa, wants that paragon of transparency and order, the UN, to intercede in the Western Sahara in behalf of France, and calls for tax on air tickets to aid Africa. As if.
No wonder the UK’s Sun says He’s Jacques the wrecker.