The electorate veers between indifference and repulsion. Talk to ordinary voters far from the Paris elite, and the overwhelming reaction is nausea. A Paris-Match poll last week suggested that the Clearstream affair ranked only tenth among subjects of conversation; top was petrol prices. 'For the electorate, the affair confirms the view that the political class is a separate caste that does not apply to itself the rules it applies to others,' comments Dominique Reyni?, a political scientist at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques.
The big loser besides the discredited buffoon Chirac is his silly Prime Minister, who has never won an election for any office, but whose pretensions are Napoleonic in envergure.
For the time being, Mr Chirac declares confidence in his enfeebled prime minister. But pressure is building among restless UMP deputies, fearful for their jobs after the election next year. Mr Chirac dislikes reacting in the middle of a storm. Yet when the country is distracted by the soccer World Cup this summer, a switch of prime ministers cannot be ruled out.
Mr. Sarkozy is unlikely to take the doomed poisoned chalice of the PM job in the last year of a presidency repudiated by the French electorate. The socialists have an excellent chance to pick up the presidency if they select the new phenom on the left, Segolene Royal, but politics in France is always rife with self-destruction, so there is a chance the Socialists will implode before selecting their candidate.
And in the bowels of the infrastructure of France lurks the Phantom of the Opera---
the far-right National Front. Its leader, Jean-Marie le Pen, has long played on disaffection with the elite as much as on xenophobic nationalism. Over the past month, according to a TNS-Sofr?s poll, his popularity has jumped by four points to 18%—his best rating since 1996.
That might not seem high, but given the volatile banlieues and the intense disaffection of the electorate for the political elites---could Gen. Boulanger be the solution? Le viellard on horseback!