BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Monday, 6 May, 2002, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
France chastened by election crisis
Chirac supporters celebrate election win
Chirac will lead France in a new era of politics

On the face of it, nothing has changed.

Jacques Chirac, the smooth Gaullist, has seen off his rival to be re-elected to the most prestigious post in France, securing another term of judicial immunity from state prosecutors investigating allegations of corruption against him.

But the people and the pundits are all agreed that his victory cannot mark the return to business as usual.

France, they say, must start seriously examining why nearly 20% of the electorate - six million voters - saw an answer to their woes in the far-right veteran Jean-Marie Le Pen, and why a further 20% could not muster the enthusiasm to vote at all.


France does have a problem with immigration and this is something Mr Chirac will have to do something about

Jean de Belot
Editor, Le Figaro
"It's basically been a total condemnation of the main political leaders," said Paul Adrien, a student. "They've got to wake up, they've got to start engaging people in politics and speak to a whole load of voters who just think they're irrelevant."

There is a general consensus that Mr Chirac will have to take on those issues which attracted so many voters to Mr Le Pen in the first place: crime, which played a key role in Chirac's own campaign, and - moreover - immigration.

Student Paul Adrien
Student Paul Adrien: France has had a wake-up call
But how he should do this is a matter of some debate.

"I think he should move further towards the right," said Jean de Belot, editor of France's centre-right daily Le Figaro, in an interview with BBC News Online.

"He will have to address the problems that Mr Le Pen has raised. One isn't supposed to say it - but France does have a problem with immigration and this is something Mr Chirac will have to do something about."

"If we have learnt one thing in the course of the last two weeks, it is that it is no longer possible to have policies which just blatantly ignore what people want."

Jean de Belot, editor of Le Figaro
Le Figaro's Jean de Belot: Chirac must move right
Mr Chirac's centre-right has lost an estimated 2.5 million votes to Mr Le Pen and his National Front over the last few years, votes he may be keen to start winning back especially with legislative elections looming next month.

The prospect is not relished by everyone on the streets of Paris.

"I do think he'll start pinching some of Le Pen's ideas - and that worries me," said Roger Ratsimihara, a pensioner, born in Madagascar, but with French citizenship.

"And the problem is, when we hear it from the mouth of Mr Chirac they may well sound more respectable."


The left is going to have to start finding new political solutions and alternative visions

Philippe Chatenay
Commentator, Marianne
But, says Philippe Chatenay, a commentator at the left-wing publication Marianne, Mr Chirac will have to remember that he owes his victory to many left-wing voters who swallowed their pride and backed him against Mr Le Pen in the second round of the presidential elections.

"He will have to bear this in mind, and if he doesn't there is now a sufficiently mobilised group of young left-wingers who will remind him," he said.

Campaigning kicks off today for June's legislative elections, where voters will decide whether they want another period of co-habitation between a president and a parliament of two political colours, or whether they will give Mr Chirac a right-wing majority in the lower legislative house.

"The left is going to have to start finding new political solutions and alternative visions," said Mr Chatenay.

"They need to take on the issue of immigration, but not by buying into the traditional rhetoric.

"Problems of deprivation and social divisions - these are what need to be addressed. France's membership of the European Union is another subject of great importance - an issue that needs to be clearly argued and well explained."

No-one doubts that divisions within France's left-wing were a major factor in the defeat of Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin by Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of presidential elections on 21 April.

"I just hope they pull themselves together now," says Marie, a cleaner in her fifties. "Otherwise there's not much hope."


Key stories

Analysis

Profiles

TALKING POINT

SPECIAL REPORT

FACTFILE
See also:

06 May 02 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes