France Liberte, Egalite, Chaos

Chirac faces Italian-style unrest and protest

The Parisian dramatist Jean Cocteau once characterized his fellow Frenchmen as a bunch of Italians in a bad mood. As thumbnail assessments go, that may have been incomplete, but it was not too far off the mark. France last week continued to be seized by a wave of train and other public-service strikes that have disrupted the country for a month. Not only was the typical Frenchman's mood even sourer than usual, but there were numerous signs that French political life, and daily life for that matter, was Italianizing at the edges. The successive crises that have beset the nine-month-old conservative...

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