Mr Chirac was elected in 1995 on promises to cut taxes, to curb unemployment and to “mend the social fracture”. Yet, under his watch, France has slipped out of the world's top five economies. Its public debt has swollen from 55% of GDP to 66%; unemployment has never dropped below 8%. At the start of Mr Chirac's reign in 1995, France was paralysed by strikes against reforms, and governed by an imperious, unloved prime minister, Alain Juppé. Now, towards its end, France has seen 1m-3m people on the streets in a student-led protest against labour-market reforms, and is governed by the imperious, unloved Mr de Villepin. A president who promoted the construction of a strong Europe, to counter-balance America in a multi-polar world, failed to persuade his own people to vote for its new constitution in last year's referendum.
The Economist: Chirac sucks!
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