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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 00:47 GMT 01:47 UK
French PM hopefuls
Jacques Chirac
Chirac is trying to create a broad new right-wing union
After his landslide win in France's presidential elections, Jacques Chirac is expected to appoint a prime minister to replace the Socialist Lionel Jospin who has said he will retire on Monday.

The interim prime minister will govern until the June 16 legislative elections, and perhaps beyond if Mr Chirac's conservative supporters win that election too.

Among favourites tipped for the top job are:

  • Jean-Pierre Raffarin

    Jean-Pierre Raffarin
    Jean-Pierre Raffarin: Provincial roots
    This little-known senator and former minister for small businesses is currently vice-president of the free-market Liberal Democracy (DL) party.

    At a campaign rally earlier this month, Mr Chirac said he advocated what Mr Raffarin calls "new governance", adding that the senator was "one of those called to play an important role in coming years."

    The 53-year-old's low profile and provincial roots are advantage at a time when voters are applying pressure to bring political decision-making closer to the people.

    Mr Raffarin said this week the next government would move quickly on two priorities: "Republican authority and social dialogue."

  • Nicolas Sarkozy

    Nicolas Sarkozy
    Nicolas Sarkozy: Sleek hair and smooth talk
    The 47-year-old mayor of the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly belongs to President Chirac's Rally for the Republic (RPR) and is one of his long-standing allies.

    The sleek-looking, smooth-talking former budget minister from is regarded as a hardline conservative.

    He said in a recent interview that a new right-wing government would have three priorities: law and order, social dialogue and economic action.

    If Mr Sarkozy were to be named premier, it is expected the other main contender for the job, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, would head an enlarged economy ministry - and vice-versa if Mr Raffarin were to secure the top job.

  • Philippe Douste-Blazy

    Philippe Douste-Blazy
    Douste-Blazy has split his party
    Toulouse's current mayor, a former culture minister, is thought less likely to be chosen as France's next prime minister, but could very well head the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

    The 49-year-old parliamentary leader for the centrist Union for French Democracy (UDF), has just split his party by leading a large faction of its deputies into a new pro-Chirac movement which the president wants to form for the next legislature.

    Known as the Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP), the movement joins the RPR with parts of the DL and the UDF, ahead of the parliamentary elections.

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