Chirac's Gamble: He Called an Election but Avoided Mentioning the Most Contentious Issue. He May Get Away with It

By Davidson, Ian | New Statesman (1996), May 23, 1997 | Go to article overview

Chirac's Gamble: He Called an Election but Avoided Mentioning the Most Contentious Issue. He May Get Away with It


Davidson, Ian, New Statesman (1996)


When President Jacques Chirac abruptly decided to call early general elections, it looked like a quixotic, improper and quite unnecessary gamble.

In the first place Chirac was defying one of the long-established conventions of the Fifth Republic. French presidents have never treated the early dissolution of parliament as a casual prerogative in the British fashion, to be employed for tactical convenience. On the contrary, they have only dissolved parliament prematurely for one of two reasons: either in response to extreme political crisis, such as the turbulent evenements of May 1968; or else after a presidential election where the new president faces a hostile National Assembly, as in 1981.

Neither of these conditions applies in France today. There has been no sudden crisis. And Chirac's position in parliament was secure, since the governing centre-right parties elected in 1993 had an even more overwhelming majority in the National Assembly than new Labour has in the House of Commons.

On the other hand, this disproportionate centre-right majority of the Gaullist RPR party and the liberal UDF coalition would be likely sooner or later to be vulnerable to the gradual recovery of the opposition Socialist Party under its new leader, Lionel Jospin. And it could be particularly vulnerable, as the president and his prime minister, Alain Juppe, continue monthly to break all records for sustained and extreme unpopularity.

All in all, Chirac seemed to be taking a gamble that could easily go wrong, and even deserved to go wrong, considering his own unpopularity. Throughout the campaign the Socialists in alliance with the Communists have been neck-and-neck with the RPR and the UDF; some polls even give the Socialists the edge.

To predict the result is doubly difficult, though, both because polls are banned in the last week of the campaign, and because the outcome will probably be decided by a large number of critical triangular run-offs in the second round of voting on Sunday week. Yet most commentators seem to predict that, even if the election is neck-and-neck in terms of votes, the conservatives could still come out ahead in terms of seats. In other words, Chirac's gamble may come off.

Now you might think all this would generate political excitement. But you would be wrong. For this election is being conducted in an atmosphere of depression, fatalism and boredom. A small majority would prefer the left to win; a substantial majority expect the right to win; few think much will change either way.

This is partly the result of profound disillusionment with Jacques Chirac. Two years ago he campaigned for president on a platform of lower taxes, lower unemployment and a healing of the social fracture between the haves and the have-nots. Within six months he changed tack, and put as top priority fiscal austerity in order to prepare for the single European currency; as a result taxes and unemployment have gone up, and the social fracture is wider than ever.

But it is also partly the result of disillusionment with the Socialist Party. Jospin is a thoroughly decent and respected politician. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Chirac's Gamble: He Called an Election but Avoided Mentioning the Most Contentious Issue. He May Get Away with It
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.