PARIS - Before the annual summer stupor paralyzed French political life, President Jacques Chirac delivered one of the most unequivocal statements of his career.
He will not bow to pressure to shorten his term in office and will not resign, he said. He considers his partnership with the Socialist prime minister "constructive," and despite myriad difficulties he will remain "president of all the French."
Reading between the lines of his long Bastille Day statement of July 14, French pundits concluded the Mr. Chirac plans to seek another seven-year term when his current one expires in 2002.
Given the dwindling ranks of his conservative supporters, plus accusations of corruption and "abuse of influence" tarnishing some of his associates and backers, Mr. Chirac's chances for another term appear iffy.