The Longest Journey

CHRISTOPHE ENA/AP

Can Chirac heal the fractures that have split France?

After four decades in politics, Jacques Chirac is facing his greatest test. How he meets it will determine whether France regains its cohesion after the shock of the presidential election, or whether the country of the first modern revolution moves to the brink of ungovernability. When he was elected for his first term in 1995, the neo-Gaullist President pledged to heal France's "social fracture," uniting the nation and achieving a reconciliation with those who felt left behind by progress. The first round of presidential voting on April 21 showed the depth of the political establishment's failure on that score as a...

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