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Europe

European Press Review: Beginning of the End for Jacques Chirac

European editorialists comment on the blow dealt French President Jacques Chirac during the past weekend's elections and the attempts to revive enthusiasm for the EU draft constitution.

The regional elections were a slap in the face to French President Jacques Chirac writes the Parisian paper France-Soir. And it warns that such major earthquakes are often followed by after shocks. Around 60 million people live in France and the paper believes that all of them are unsatisfied about something. Today’s voter disapproval of Chirac is a glaring contrast to his triumph during the presidential elections in 2002. The mood can be summed up as such: if the man hired to run the country isn’t doing his job, then he should be fired.

The Libération in Paris agrees that French voters obviously want a political change. President Jacques Chirac needs to respond to that demand through his actions and in whom he chooses to help him govern. Whatever choices he makes, though, the paper thinks this could be the beginning of the end of the Chirac era.

Taking a larger look at the results of France’s regional elections, La Repubblica in Rome writes that Europe has discovered its desire for change. First Spain saw an unexpected move to the left and now France. The paper
observes that things are going to be more difficult for President Chirac from now until June, when the European Union elections could confirm the trend begun by voters in France.

Other EU issues, namely the draft constitution is the focus of discussion in Britain’s The Guardian. Last week’s decision to revive the debate was surprising, but Spain and Poland, who blocked the deal last December, have shifted their stances. The paper thinks that a good constitution would make the EU more efficient and comprehensible. It would be fairer to more people. And yet, chides the paper, ministers are still negative about the document.

Austria’s Die Presse is less optimistic about the European Union as a whole. It feels that the bloc is losing its reliability, which became more evident after last week’s summit. It thinks the attempt to bring the dead draft constitution debate back to life is another attempt at sparking false hope and eurphoria about what is going on in Brussels.

Europe is developing into a realm of necessities and not a realm that protects liberties, states the Berliner Zeitung. In the drive to reform economies and improve security, the paper warns governments not to risk losing the people’s support for the EU.