Chirac tells right to shun idea of a new 'cohabitation'

JACQUES CHIRAC, the Gaullist leader, has said French conservatives should not serve under President Francois Mitterrand if the right wins parliamentary elections next March.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister under Mr Mitterrand during the 1986-88 cohabitation after the right won elections while the Socialist President still had two years to serve, said in a television interview that 'morals and dignity should lead the President of the Republic this time to draw the conclusions' and leave office if the right wins.

Mr Chirac, reconfirmed as president of the Gaullist RPR party this week, is currently best placed to win a presidential election, according to opinion polls.

There has been constant speculation that Mr Mitterrand, diagnosed to have cancer of the prostate, might soon choose to step down after gaining the victory he wanted for the 'yes' vote in last Sunday's referendum on the Maastricht treaty. Mr Chirac's words were an apparent attempt to put on the pressure for a complete change of political power. The ruling Socialist Party is at a very low ebb and its chances of recovery by March are slim.

Although Mr Chirac led the 'yes' faction in his party, his refusal to envisage a new cohabitation coincides with the view of the leaders of the majority Gaullist 'no' campaign, Philippe Seguin and Charles Pasqua, who were both ministers in Mr Chirac's 1986-88 cabinet.

It was hardly likely to please the patrician Edouard Balladur, who was Mr Chirac's finance minister and has been tipped as a likely choice for prime minister if Mr Mitterrand does stay on for a cohabitation bis. The Gaullist 'no' campaigners have singled out Mr Balladur as one of the leaders with whom they are most out of tune. So Mr Chirac's statement could be seen as an olive branch to the 'no' faction as well as an attempt to draw the battlelines in the fight against Mr Mitterrand.

The first experience of cohabitation was a bitter one for the Gaullists and their allies in the centre-right Union for French Democracy (UDF). The President kept the reins on foreign policy and defence and was wont to criticise the actions of what was theoretically his own government, becoming a sort of dissident-in-chief. In 1988, he easily won the presidential election against his own prime minister, threw new parliamentary elections and formed a Socialist government.

However, there was a fresh dissonance in Gaullist ranks yesterday as Jacques Chaban-Delmas, who was prime minister from 1969 to 1972 under Georges Pompidou, the last Gaullist president, said that it was constitutionally impossible to hold 'a government strike'. The new parliamentary majority formed after the next general elections would be simply obliged to govern, he said.

peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits