Raffarin: I'm not resigning

15th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 15 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Tuesday rejected opposition calls for him to resign in the wake of EU elections Sunday that dealt his ruling conservative party a heavy defeat.

PARIS, June 15 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Tuesday rejected opposition calls for him to resign in the wake of EU elections Sunday that dealt his ruling conservative party a heavy defeat.

"You have chosen a strategy of a manhunt," Raffarin berated Socialist deputies in parliament in his first public comments since the Sunday polls.

"It's not my conception of democracy, it's not my conception of the republic," he said, adding: "Let everybody continue their roles. You, it's all empty words. Us, it's the courage of action."

Raffarin has kept a low profile since Sunday's elections, in which the opposition Socialists grab 31 of the 78 European parliamentary seats allocated to France.

The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) of Raffarin and President Jacques Chirac managed to take only 17 seats amid a record voter abstention rate of 57 percent.

Raffarin spoke of his "big disappointment" over the electorate's apathy and said: "Everybody has a responsibility in that, and I assume mine because we all have a duty to mobilise in favour of the European cause."

The UMP's poor showing confirmed a public disenchantment that first emerged in March regional elections, when the Socialists took all but two of France's 26 regional assemblies.

Both elections were considered mid-term tests for the government and for Chirac, whose mandates end in 2007.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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