France. According to
Countryaah website, the first round of the presidential election in
April became a political scare when right-wing extremist
National Front candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen unexpectedly
received more votes than Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. The
second round thus stood between Le Pen and the incumbent
President Jacques Chirac, while socialist Jospin bitterly
announced that he was leaving and left politics for good.
Low turnout and a divided left contributed to the unexpected
The political establishment, including virtually the
entire left and the environmental movement, gathered for a
power demonstration against the xenophobic Le Pen in the
second round of May 5, and Chirac won with just over 82% of
the vote. The next day he appointed Jean-Pierre Raffarin as
Prime Minister. Raffarin, from the Liberal Party DL, formed
an interim government of the center and right parties
dominated by Chirac's Conservative Assembly for the
The bourgeois bloc consolidated its dominance in
elections to the National Assembly in June. The Socialists
lost 101 seats and the Allied Communist Party made its
second worst election since it was founded in 1920. Le Pen
failed to consolidate its past successes; The national front
did not receive a single mandate. The government of the
refinery remained unchanged.
In November, the victorious Alliance UMP (Union for
President Majority) was transformed into a new party that
brought together the previously so divided French right. The
party retained the abbreviation but called itself the Union
for popular movement. It included the RPR, the liberal DL
and parts of the Union for French democracy, the UDF. Former
Prime Minister Alain Juppé was elected leader. The UMP had a
satisfactory majority with 400 of the 577 seats in the
National Assembly. Many saw the new party as a first step
towards a two-party system in France.
President Chirac was charged with attempted murder during
a parade on National Day July 14, when a man fired a shot at
him. The perpetrator was quickly overpowered and no one was
injured. The man was reported to have acted on his own, but
a right-wing extremist group he had contact with, Radical
Unity (UR), was banned a few weeks later as a result of the
The widespread strikes and the social unrest that some
predicted after the right's success in the elections failed.
Yet in practice, the government tore up, among other things.
the 35-hour week introduced by the socialists. In October,
however, large demonstrations were held against planned cuts
and sales of state-owned companies. However, the plans
proceeded on a sale of the airline Air France and in
November the government announced that under certain
conditions France would be ready to deregulate the
electricity market within a few years.
In the autumn, it was clear that France risked a warning
from the EU about weak government finances. The budget
deficit was estimated to be too close to the three percent
limit of the Stability Pact. The government still refused to
promise to try to reduce the deficit and announced that
election promises on tax cuts and more money for police and
defense would be fulfilled.