But the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris says that as a career diplomat never elected to public office, he of all candidates most typifies the French elite so roundly rejected by the French people on Sunday.The end of the article is a brief bit about the unfortunate Mr Raffarin:
After Mr Raffarin resigned, he said in a TV broadcast that he had made his decision independently of the EU vote.
He attempted to justify his attempts to reform France, but acknowledged these had not been accepted by the French people.
"I have always been aware that what is healthy for the nation does not go unblamed by public opinion," he said.
Opinion polls suggest that Mr Raffarin was one of France's most unpopular prime ministers since the Fifth Republic was set up in 1958.
He offered his support to his successor, who needed, he said, to continue the vital European project.L'Escroc's treatment of Raffarin was, all in all, a disgrace. Chirac told him to implement the reforms that all but the totally braindead French left recognises must be implemented and then gave him an absolute minimum of support when those reforms went down like a lead balloon with the French population. Indeed with the benefit of hindsight it looks like Raffarin was pretty much picked to be scapegoat when things looked grim. After the recent local elections where the Gaullists lost quite a lot to the socialists as a result of the Raffarin "reforms", Raffarin attempted to quit but Chirac insisted that he stay, apparently Chirac wanted to save up this scapegoating act for a real disaster. Now it seems one has happened and Raffarin has been sacrificed in an attempt by Chirac to remain in power.
The President’s admiration is not universally shared in the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), his party. The new Prime Minister is known for dismissing bothersome MPs as “connards”, or a***holes. They are also worried that M de Villepin’s impetuous, hard-charging style will land him in trouble, as it has in the past.
M Chirac’s choice is risky because France voted in anger against the arrogance of the governing elite and its remoteness from the concerns of daily life. His new Prime Minister is the perfect example of this.
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin, the son of an aristocratic senator and businessman from the colonies, is the antithesis of la France d’en bas, the ordinary people with whom M Chirac and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the outgoing Prime Minister, have failed to connect.
A Parisian charmer with no common touch, he is a product, like most of the political elite, of the Ecole Nationale de l’ Administration, the Gallic mandarins’ academy.The general distaste for the aristo is repeated in the Torygraph (leader - "Chirac turns to a crony") and the FT reports that the nomination went down like a lead balloon in the financial markets:
Financial markets reacted badly to Mr de Villepin's appointment in the eurozone's second biggest economy, with the euro tumbling 1 per cent to $1.235 to the US dollar, its sharpest one-day fall in two months.
"Villepin is viewed as maintaining the status quo. He supports the 'French economic model' and does not see any need for urgent reform," said Hans Redeker...This seems likely to be precisely the case. Chirac has someone who seems destined to bend over backwards to accomodate the unions (SNCF goes on strike tomorrow for the fourth time this year) and as a result no doubt, France will ignore almost every rule from Brussels that fails to suit France and will instead implement whatever protectionist idiocy the unions demand as the Torygraph reports:
He promised a concerted national drive to tackle the jobs issue. No solution would be ruled out, he said, but the strategy would be devised "with total respect for the French model. . . not one of the Anglo-Saxon type".EURSOC (and many others) points out that the alternative for l'Escroc would have been to nominate Sarko for the PM's post. Sarko is undoubtedly more popular, is demonstrably competant and activist, indeed hyperactive, and has made rather sound comments recently about the need to ditch the "French model"
Such is the dread inspired by the word "reform", most particularly "liberal reform", that despite a persistently high unemployment rate of 10% and a welfare state that, most economists agree, France can no longer afford, only one politician has so far dared suggest France should vote yes because it needs to change.
"The best social model is no longer our social model," Nicolas Sarkozy told a rally last week. "The question is this: can France escape the effort, the work, the questioning, the reforms that some of our European neighbours have put in before us? My answer is no. Europe demands that we change."Of course as the Torygraph also notes in its leader, Sarko and Chirac are not precisely best buddies. Chirac has done everything he can to derail the career of Sarko including coming up with a curious rule the Sarko could not be both minister and party president - something that he now seems to have forgotten about just 6 months later as he reinstates Sarko as interior minister.