The challenge for the Clinton administration and for US administrations before and after was to be a hegemon without acting like one. The administration had made the mistake of acting like one. The Madrid meeting endorsed the US preference, but not without significant grumbling by French President JacquesChirac and others. The allies found much to complain about, including the fact that the United States wanted seats in the session for US senators who had been brought along with the US summit delegation to help ensure a favorable ratification
, moreover, made many of their own electors particularly disgruntled. For all these reasons, and following JacquesChirac’s first election as president, in 1995 Prime Minister Alain Juppé himself led the charge by introducing a bill to Parliament which would, in effect, bring about the same reforms of public sector pensions as the private sector had just undergone. Moreover, this bill sought to consolidate a private pension option within the French system. This time, however, resistance to reform was ferocious and sustained. The substance of what was proposed, of course
triggered by wrong-doing generally after 1990.
1 In France in 1993, François Mitterand (president from 1981 to 1995)
was revealed to have been engaged in illegal wire-tapping, supposedly to keep aspects of his private life (such as an illegitimate child,
a 1981 cancer diagnosis and involvement with the Vichy regime)
secret. Prior to that, in 1989, it had come to light that Urba, a consultancy organisation set up by the Socialist Party in 1971, had been
used as a channel for secret payments to the party by firms bidding
for public contracts. After JacquesChirac assumed
) engages in international negotiations, but also vice versa: discourses that evolve in the international realm feed
back into domestic politics and power struggles among domestic groups such
as political parties.
The French case is more intriguing. In the 1995 presidential elections,
JacquesChirac was elected president. In the subsequent 1997 parliamentary
elections, Chirac’s party, the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR), lost a
considerable number of seats in the Assemblé Nationale, which led to a cohabitation for the next electoral term. From 1997 to 2002, the
is the great persuader’,
a close aide comments. ‘He thinks he can convert people even when it
might seem as if he doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of succeeding.
Call him naïve, call it what you will, but he never gives up. He would
say things like “I can get Jacques (Chirac) to do this” or “leave Putin
to me”.’ A French official, noting the same tendency, suggests that
‘there is not a single problem that Blair thinks he cannot solve with
his own personal engagement – it could be Russia, it could be Africa’.
This high belief in personal efficacy does come with
French Socialists and the formation of a right-wing government under JacquesChirac. Reagan had been resoundingly re-elected in
1984 and Helmut Kohl was as comfortably ensconced in government in West
Germany as Thatcher was in Britain. The socialist governments in Spain and
Greece offered little consolation. The Spanish Socialists (PSOE) in office made
a virtue of pragmatism and moderation, justifying their policies in terms of
the country’s necessary modernisation via integration into the European Economic Community (EEC) and NATO. They had no use for socialist
economic pressures (Bourg, 2007: 305; Hobsbawm,
1994: 411). Moreover, the government had been complicit in the bombing in
New Zealand of Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear ship, the Rainbow Warrior, resulting
in the death of a photographer (Katsiaficas, 1987: 114). Debray’s political star
fell even further, however, when he participated in a commission established
at the behest of the conservative President JacquesChirac, and which recommended the banning of the hijab in schools (Birchall, 2007). For the radical
Debray of the late 1960s, the political juncture of the times
of France but also of Europe. The relationship that unites the current
president JacquesChirac to France symbolised by the French flag are transferred
to Europe and to the European flag. Chirac becomes the representative of Europe,
a political leader playing a global role on equal footing with leaders such as
George Bush and Vladimir Putin. Chirac thus represents not only France, but
also Germany, Great Britain and the other European Union member-states. In
other terms, we are witnessing in the case of the rotating European Union
presidency a symbolic
to JacquesChirac in the first round of
voting and thereby to enter the run-off, when many chagrined Socialists found
themselves voting for right-wing Chirac in order to keep out the far right.
Socialist Laurent Fabius announced in 2003 that he favoured the introduction
of compulsory voting for National Assembly elections (Service des Etudes
Juridiques, 2003: 5). The bill introduced at that time was defeated, however.
The evidence from New Zealand, the Netherlands and Germany that support
for compulsory voting is associated with right-wing parties therefore appears
Diplomatic embarrassment and European democratic identity
the organisation of regular inter-governmental meetings and of a yearly summit between the French President and the Spanish Prime Minister confirmed the good relationship between the two neighbouring countries.
The French co-operation against ETA would further evolve when in 1986, short of a parliamentary majority, President Mitterrand was pushed to cohabit with the opposition.
With JacquesChirac as Prime Minister and Charles Pasqua as Minister of the Interior