MAN OF THE HOUR, AT LAST

AFTER 14 YEARS OF RULE BY FRANCOIS MITTERRAND, A TROUBLED NATION ELECTS GAULLIST JACQUES CHIRAC AS PRESIDENT

On a cold night in Rouen this February, Jacques Chirac slumped into the back seat of his Citroen and opened a Heineken. Chirac is the conservative mayor of Paris and a former Prime Minister of France; he was running for the French presidency and had just delivered a 90-minute speech. He was bone tired. Nevertheless, the long day of handshaking and backslapping buoyed his spirits. "I have always campaigned close to the people," he said. "I am a man of contact." Chirac had an added reason for satisfaction: on that night, for the first time since he officially entered the race...

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