FRANCE: The Big Knife

All French governments are condemned to the guillotine from the moment they are voted into power. French Premiers are like men in death row, continuously making appeals (votes of confidence), living from one reprieve to another, loudly proclaiming their innocence but secretly accepting the inevitable, wondering and worrying when the big knife will fall.

Having survived 33 appeals for confidence and nearly 16 months in office, Premier Guy Mollet trod his way to the end last week with a certain nonchalance. "No regrets," he told one of his executioners, "now I can take a rest. They can nail me up...

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