It's Not Over Yet, Folks

PATRICK KOVARICK/AFP

Chirac plots strategy with his new Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin

In the end, it was a landslide. on May 5 France re-elected Jacques Chirac as President with 82% of the vote, the biggest majority since direct presidential elections were introduced in 1962. The following day Chirac appointed a tubby local centrist named Jean-Pierre Raffarin to be Prime Minister of an interim government of Chirac loyalists, pending parliamentary elections next month. With disorienting speed, France whipped back to normality after a fortnight of unprecedented mass demonstrations against Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front (FN).

Despite the appearance of business as usual, though, the country is living through a strange hiatus....

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