April 20, 2005

About a President

The president holds up his country as the model democracy. His right-wing supporters believe his biggest strength is advancing western ideals through robust foreign policy (the biggest example of this being his controversial but initially domestically popular stance on Iraq). Now though, he is achieving significantly less political success with his signature domestic issue. Members of his party are openly frustrated at his failure to sell voters on the major change he proposes. No one doubts that he has focused the country’s attention on the issue—but his approach stinks of failure, and it could lead to his own political downfall.

I’m talking, of course, about Jacques Chirac and the European constitution. 

When I first wrote about this topic, surveys were just beginning to indicate that French voters might veto the historical treaty. That trend has since intensified. Last Thursday night, Jacques Chirac held a televised “debate” with journalists and 83 pre-selected young people. The event was designed to encourage the nation to vote Oui in the upcoming constitutional referendum. The day after, the margin worsened to 56% against. His performance was “an embarrassment,” and what’s more, backers of the constitution fear that many people will vote against it just to express their displeasure with his administration.

Maybe the president should just sit this debate out. After all, the percentage of the electorate that believes the country is on the right track has fallen to the mid-thirties. Plus, he is increasingly tainted by his association with political leaders who have behaved unethically. Though his party that is supposed to be fiscally conservative, he has bloated the government and persistently mismanaged the public finances. In short, his credibility is shot. Over the long term, the challenges he describes need to be addressed – and could be if only he would admit his approach has failed, stop blaming “liberals,” and just get out of the way.

I did mention I was talking about Jacques Chirac, didn’t I?

By Will Friedman in Foreign Affairs, Politics, Social Security | Permalink  | 

Comments

Kinda makes you want to consider anarchy, doesn't it?

Posted by: SheaNC | Apr 20, 2005 8:55:11 PM

See how it all plays out over a very large canvas, always the same, always strangely similar.

Yes Orwell had it right, welcome the vast right-wing obvious power grab.

Posted by: Haywood | Apr 23, 2005 1:56:38 AM

We're all so different yet so much alike. I will be so happy when we can see this and begin to work together for the common good.

Posted by: Frenchie | Apr 29, 2005 4:37:05 AM

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