Celebration fails to heal Gaullist divide

With France swiftly returning to normal after the two-week lorry-drivers' protest, the country's ruling Gaullists turned out in force to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their party, the Rassemblement pour la Republique (Rally for the Republic).

At 20 regional meetings across France, including a 5,000-strong gathering in Paris, party members heard a call from the Prime Minister and RPR leader, Alain Juppe, to banish "depression" and fight for victory in the 1998 parliamentary elections.

Despite elaborate stage management, yesterday's festivities had a defensive quality and only served to underline the difficulties that face the French right less than two years after it won back the presidency from the Socialists.

The decision to hold regional festivities rather than one giant national gathering, as for the 10th anniversary in 1986, was calculated to address criticism that the party's leaders have become remote from the rank and file. Government ministers were urged to attend one or more local events while Mr Juppe set the tone by speaking at Agen, in his native region of Aquitaine, before flying to Paris to address the meeting here.

The whereabouts and attitude of President Jacques Chirac, who founded the RPR in 1976 as a scarcely disguised vehicle to gain the presidency, however, were a mystery. Leader of the party for most of its existence - until he resigned to campaign for the presidency in October 1994 - he did not even send a celebratory message.

As President, Mr Chirac has steadfastly upheld the idea that the head of state should be seen to represent all the French and has stayed away from party events. His silence yesterday was also interpreted as a move to boost Mr Juppe's authority at the head of the RPR. Even since his formal election to the post a year ago, Mr Juppe has suffered from the fact that other Gaullists of a more traditional stamp - Philippe Seguin and Charles Pasqua among them - are far more popular than he is.

Yesterday, in a decision believed to have Mr Chirac's blessing, it was Mr Seguin who attended the RPR celebrations at Egletons in the president's home department of the Correze. Egletons was where Mr Chirac announced his intention to form the new party.

Neither the ideological division, nor the change in generations that the formation of the RPR represented, however, solved the problem of finding an ideology and a leader able to unite all those who would claim to be Gaullists in France. Mr Juppe laughed this off in his speech yesterday, saying the problem was that "some RPR members claim to be more Gaullist than others".

The decision of Mr Chirac and Edouard Balladur to contest the last presidential election left the RPR divided according to personal loyalties. Last week witnessed a further division, as MPs from the RPR's traditionalist wing supported their old enemy, Valery Giscard D'Estaing, against the new guard of Mr Juppe on the question of a single currency.

n The ambassador of Zaire to France, Ramazani Baya, is being recalled following a road accident in the Riviera town of Menton in which two French adolescents were killed. Public pressure had been mounting for the ambassador, who is said to have been driving at 120km per hour in a 40km zone, to have his diplomatic immunity lifted and face trial.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game