Monday, March 12, 2007

Chirac says Goodbye

NYT - After 40 Years in French Politics, Chirac to Retire
After more than four decades as a politician and a dozen years as president, Jacques Chirac announced his retirement from politics on Sunday. . .

In a brief and deeply personal address to the nation carried on television and radio, Mr. Chirac said he would not seek a third term in next month’s election.
Although Chirac was undoubtedly right to oppose the Iraq War, he was hardly a shining light in French Politics.
his dissolution of Parliament in 1997 led to an unwieldy and unworkable division of power with the Socialist Party known as cohabitation.

His popularity plummeted in 2005, when the French people rejected the European Union’s proposed constitution in a referendum, the country’s troubled ethnic Arab and African Muslim immigrant communities were gripped by unrest and he suffered what has been called a “vascular incident” that was widely believed to have been a slight stroke.

He will leave office failing to fulfill his promise in 1995 to end the “social fracture” between the haves and the have-nots; he leaves France little better off economically than when he took office in 1995. The unemployment rate remains 9 percent; economic growth is at 2 percent.

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