Chirac's struggling Joker

23rd September 2003, Comments 0 comments

While French President Jacques Chirac steals an international limelight, his prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is struggling to convince an increasingly sceptical France. Marc Burleigh reports.

With polls showing his public support slipping to below 40 percent - a 20 percent drop from when Chirac gave him the job after elections in May last year – French Prime Minister Raffarin has gone on the offensive.  

Chirac enjoys the world stage
while Raffarin walks the plank at home

He is struggling to convince an increasingly sceptical France that he has the answers for a raft of social and economic ills.

Late Sunday, he spent two hours on private television channel M6 defending his record while reports flashed up exploring perceived failures of his centre-right government; they ranged from the inept handling of a summer heatwave that killed more than 11,000 people, to a languishing economy, labour and pension reform, burgeoning crime in urban housing projects, and run-ins with the European Commission over state bail-outs and the euro zone's worst budget deficit.

"I'm not in this job for my career, I'm here out of duty. My job is to roll my sleeves up," he said.

France's major nationals, however, judged Raffarin lacking while proffering little more than platitudes.

"He didn't have a lot in his bag," the left-wing daily Libération commented.

"On the defensive, Raffarin seemed more than once like someone commentating on his own actions ... Against the ill winds, Raffarin struggled," the popular tabloid Le Parisien noted.

Even Le Figaro, traditionally sympathetic to the right, was reserved. "Like a campaigning Jacques Chirac, he took a lot of notes and knows the subjects in-depth.... Will that be enough?"

As a provincial politician brought in to head Chirac's government, Raffarin initially won over many French people with his unassuming ways, leaving the glory and speeches on the world stage to the president while he brought his mild but dogged manner to a variety of domestic disputes.

In recent months, however, dissatisfaction has grown.

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Chirac enjoys the world stage
while Raffarin walks the plank at home

He is struggling to convince an increasingly sceptical France that he has the answers for a raft of social and economic ills.

Late Sunday, he spent two hours on private television channel M6 defending his record while reports flashed up exploring perceived failures of his centre-right government; they ranged from the inept handling of a summer heatwave that killed more than 11,000 people, to a languishing economy, labour and pension reform, burgeoning crime in urban housing projects, and run-ins with the European Commission over state bail-outs and the euro zone's worst budget deficit.

"I'm not in this job for my career, I'm here out of duty. My job is to roll my sleeves up," he said.

France's major nationals, however, judged Raffarin lacking while proffering little more than platitudes.

"He didn't have a lot in his bag," the left-wing daily Libération commented.

"On the defensive, Raffarin seemed more than once like someone commentating on his own actions ... Against the ill winds, Raffarin struggled," the popular tabloid Le Parisien noted.

Even Le Figaro, traditionally sympathetic to the right, was reserved. "Like a campaigning Jacques Chirac, he took a lot of notes and knows the subjects in-depth.... Will that be enough?"

As a provincial politician brought in to head Chirac's government, Raffarin initially won over many French people with his unassuming ways, leaving the glory and speeches on the world stage to the president while he brought his mild but dogged manner to a variety of domestic disputes.

In recent months, however, dissatisfaction has grown.

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Chirac enjoys the world stage
while Raffarin walks the plank at home

He is struggling to convince an increasingly sceptical France that he has the answers for a raft of social and economic ills.

Late Sunday, he spent two hours on private television channel M6 defending his record while reports flashed up exploring perceived failures of his centre-right government; they ranged from the inept handling of a summer heatwave that killed more than 11,000 people, to a languishing economy, labour and pension reform, burgeoning crime in urban housing projects, and run-ins with the European Commission over state bail-outs and the euro zone's worst budget deficit.

"I'm not in this job for my career, I'm here out of duty. My job is to roll my sleeves up," he said.

France's major nationals, however, judged Raffarin lacking while proffering little more than platitudes.

"He didn't have a lot in his bag," the left-wing daily Libération commented.

"On the defensive, Raffarin seemed more than once like someone commentating on his own actions ... Against the ill winds, Raffarin struggled," the popular tabloid Le Parisien noted.

Even Le Figaro, traditionally sympathetic to the right, was reserved. "Like a campaigning Jacques Chirac, he took a lot of notes and knows the subjects in-depth.... Will that be enough?"

As a provincial politician brought in to head Chirac's government, Raffarin initially won over many French people with his unassuming ways, leaving the glory and speeches on the world stage to the president while he brought his mild but dogged manner to a variety of domestic disputes.

In recent months, however, dissatisfaction has grown.

ht">

Chirac enjoys the world stage
while Raffarin walks the plank at home

He is struggling to convince an increasingly sceptical France that he has the answers for a raft of social and economic ills.

Late Sunday, he spent two hours on private television channel M6 defending his record while reports flashed up exploring perceived failures of his centre-right government; they ranged from the inept handling of a summer heatwave that killed more than 11,000 people, to a languishing economy, labour and pension reform, burgeoning crime in urban housing projects, and run-ins with the European Commission over state bail-outs and the euro zone's worst budget deficit.

"I'm not in this job for my career, I'm here out of duty. My job is to roll my sleeves up," he said.

France's major nationals, however, judged Raffarin lacking while proffering little more than platitudes.

"He didn't have a lot in his bag," the left-wing daily Libération commented.

"On the defensive, Raffarin seemed more than once like someone commentating on his own actions ... Against the ill winds, Raffarin struggled," the popular tabloid Le Parisien noted.

Even Le Figaro, traditionally sympathetic to the right, was reserved. "Like a campaigning Jacques Chirac, he took a lot of notes and knows the subjects in-depth.... Will that be enough?"

As a provincial politician brought in to head Chirac's government, Raffarin initially won over many French people with his unassuming ways, leaving the glory and speeches on the world stage to the president while he brought his mild but dogged manner to a variety of domestic disputes.

In recent months, however, dissatisfaction has grown.