BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 6 May, 2002, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Uncertain road ahead for Chirac
French President Jacques Chirac
President Chirac has the mandate, but can he deliver?
test hello test
William Horsley
By William Horsley
BBC European affairs correspondent
Jacques Chirac has promised swift and decisive action to meet the concerns of the French nation.

But though elected as president in a landslide victory over his right-wing opponent Jean-Marie Le Pen, the path ahead for Mr Chirac and his political allies is uncertain.

Much depends on the outcome of next month's parliamentary elections, which look finely poised between the left and the right.

Hands of Chirac supporters
Disparate groups came together to support Chirac
In the five weeks before then, Mr Chirac will work with an interim cabinet team appointed by himself which lacks powers to pass new laws.

And much depends on the skill and tact with which Mr Chirac can translate his unprecedented mandate into a programme that commands the support of most voters.

But there is no doubt about what President Chirac has promised.

It is an uncompromising programme of neo-liberal economic reform, combined with radical measures to bolster law and order, and a bid to take more executive power into his own hands at the expense of the government that is to be elected.

Among Mr Chirac's pledges are:

  • A new public security ministry directly answerable to him

  • An immediate 5% cut in income tax

  • Cuts in company taxes and social security payments by employers

  • Modification of the Socialist-inspired 35-hour week to take account of the needs of smaller businesses

  • A strong defence of European Union subsidies to French farmers.

In this there is much that is designed to answer the worries of those who backed Mr Le Pen and his National Front.

But there is little or nothing that shows a willingness to co-operate with the left-wing voters who lent him close to 10 million votes to ensure his victory over the challenge of the far right.

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