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The French malaise

The European crisis has exposed France's weakness. President Sarkozy's record is poor, as he bids for a second term. Did De Gaulle create a presidency that does not work?

By Jonathan Fenby   November 2011

“L’état, c’est moi”—like Louis XIV, de Gaulle, commemorated above, built the office of president in his own image. No leader since has suited it

France is moving towards a moment of truth. The euro crisis, an unpopular president, rivalries within the Socialist party and a flatlining economy are forcing into question the balancing act performed by successive leaders for the past three decades. Abroad, the nation of Louis XIV, Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle likes to think of itself as Europe’s leader. This perception is now under threat. Meanwhile, at home, the very nature of the Fifth Republic…

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