FRANCE: Man of Distinction

In his traditional top hat, striped pants, red sash and morning coat, the President of France is a beloved symbol of republican pomp. He wields no executive power; he cannot initiate or veto legislation. But he can—if the situation demands and permits—counsel, guide and admonish. During France's periodic Cabinet crises, when he must direct the dancelike ritual from which new governments emerge, he seems a heartening symbol of stability. Premiers come and go, but the President remains (for a seven-year term, at least).

Last week a dozen or more stout French hearts...

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