The strikes, the bitter debates and the political battles that gripped France last week could not alone explain the nation's unusually somber mood. When Georges Pompidou succeeded Charles de Gaulle three months ago, his countrymen were ready for a good long vacation. Except for the jolt of the franc's devaluation, they got it. But as the schools reopened, as the Chamber of Deputies resumed business in earnest, as "the season" in Paris began, 50 million Frenchmen were suddenly confronted with the sad fact that, from now on, their country is likely to play...

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