“No, he’ll have to stay up a while longer,” said the mayor of my commune in the Midi-Pyrenees region, gazing at the official photograph of Jacques Chirac that hangs over his desk, as it does in all the 36,000 town halls of France. A Chirac 12 years younger, newly elected, inspiring hope. “He’s been there almost since I got the job. When I arrived, Mitterrand was there.” Both presidents were figureheads, deliberately remote from petty, everyday concerns. Monarchs. Today Nicolas Sarkozy, and the electorate, see power differently.
“It’ll be months before we get the new Sarkozy,” sighs the mayor, used…
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