Is It Time For a Sixth Republic?

There is a whiff of fin de régime hovering over France these days. The usual excitement of a presidential election campaign has given way to boredom and contempt. Nearly 60% of the French say they have little interest in the contest, and pollsters are predicting possibly the lowest voter turnout in the 44-year history of the Fifth Republic.

The May 5 runoff between the two probable finalists, Gaullist President Jacques Chirac and Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, is likely to be decided by the narrowest of margins. As political analyst Pascal Perrineau puts it: "France's love affair...

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