The Power Behind the Throne

JOEL SAGET/AFP

Though he keeps a low profile, Juppé has presidential ambitions

In the strange power vacuum before June's parliamentary elections, Alain Juppé, 56, is playing several parts in a political version of The Wizard of Oz. He is the man behind the curtain, having engineered the current placeholder government as the best advertisement for a conservative victory. Depending on your politics, he's either the Wicked Witch of the West or the good one of the East. Memories of his ham-handed reform efforts as Prime Minister from 1995 to '97 could even serve as a convenient scarecrow for the left. No one would suggest, though, that he lacks a...

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