June 19, 2005


Why de Villepin, of all people? (Olivier Gutta, Jun. 19, 2005, THE JERUSALEM POST)

After the rejection of the European Constitution in France earlier this month, President Jacques Chirac could have either resigned or changed his government. Of course resigning was out of the question because Chirac would then have lost his immunity and most probably ended up in jail on corruption charges. Instead, he fired Premier Raffarin and replaced him with the most anti-American politician in his party: Dominique de Villepin.

In order to assess Chirac's choice, one has to closely study de Villepin's history. Indeed, his real name Dominique Marie Francois Ren Galouzeau de Villepin already defines for most people his main trait: obnoxiousness. [...]

Interestingly enough, de Villepin is almost unanimously hated in France, starting with France's First Lady. In fact, Bernadette Chirac has nicknamed him "Nero" after the infamous Roman emperor who murdered his own mother, ruled as an autocrat, estranged the upper classes by executing senators and loved poetry – which by the way de Villepin is famous for. He has even alienated his good friends, such as former premier Alain Juppe, who begged Chirac not to pick Villepin. [...]

[M]ore importantly, he is not popular among the French: A June 1 poll showed that only 36 percent approve of his nomination and 57% think he is not going to restore the confidence of the French people anytime soon. He is haughty and far from the people, and, as the very popular incoming Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy put it: "Villepin never traveled in second class."

So, with almost everyone from the trade unions to the business community disliking de Villepin and 51% of the French people saying Chirac did not get the message after his defeat in the referendum, why in hell did Chirac pick him?

CHIRAC DIDN'T listen to the French people or anyone in his close circle who advocated against de Villepin because, first and foremost, he considers him almost like the son he never had.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2005 11:02 PM

Perhaps Chirac hopes to look good by comparison.

Posted by: Mike Earl at June 19, 2005 11:31 PM

Then he should have selected Le Pen.

Posted by: obc at June 20, 2005 12:05 AM

I think No Pasaran pointed out Dom's family bought the name de Villepin.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 20, 2005 3:05 AM

CHIRAC . . . considers [de Villepin] almost like the son he never had.

I take some small comfort in the fact that the Chirac family line ends with this generation.

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 20, 2005 6:13 AM

Chirac has a daughter married to a Muslim.
If de Villepin is 'Ren' does that mean that Chirac is 'Stimpy?'

Chirac has always had a tin ear when it comes to French public opinion. He has merely managed to be fortunate in his adversaries. He lucked out when LePen snuck into the 2d round last time, Jospin would have beaten him 57-43 at least. And the first time he won, he benefitted from Mitterand fatigue. His earlier efforts at being President were comically inept, he has after all been on the national scene since the early 70s, when he was PM under Giscard. He is the French equivalent of Nixon or Dole, an insider of little merit but skilled at enriching himself.

Railing against the 'Anglo-Saxons' has been a Gaullist gambit forever. So, he goes to the well again.

Posted by: bart at June 20, 2005 9:16 AM