Chirac's party fails to boost morale

Activists of France's Gaullist RPR party turned out in force yesterday to mark the first anniversary of Jacques Chirac's election victory and hear the Prime Minister and party president, Alain Juppe, promise a five- year reform of public spending and taxation for the autumn.

But the mood at the one-day national convention in Paris was very far from the euphoria of a year ago and all the professionalism of the Gaullist party machine was unable to disguise strong undercurrents of anxiety and personal rivalry.

Party officials had hoped that the convention would seal the "reconciliation" of the party rank and file with Mr Juppe, who succeeded Mr Chirac as party leader last autumn. Mr Juppe, who has worked hard in recent months to project a more popular and sympathetic image, in which social projects and babies have loomed large, none the less found himself upstaged yesterday by two of the party's genuine populists, Charles Pasqua, the former interior minister, and Philippe Seguin, chairman of the National Assembly.

Promotional films on the party's record, which punctuated stage-managed policy "debates", operated embarrassingly like popularity tests. The 4,500 delegates applauded their favourites and left telling silences whenever Mr Juppe and certain members of his government appeared. His own address, which closed the convention, relied for appeal largely on references to Mr Pasqua and Mr Chirac who, eschewing party politics since his election as President, stayed away.

One purpose of the convention was to chart a course for the 1998 parliamentary elections and announce a major recruitment drive to boost the party's position. At present, the centre-right coalition formed by the Gaullists and the UDF grouping, holds three-quarters of parliamentary seats, won in the 1993 landslide.

The problem for the Gaullists is not only the impossibility of replicating the 1993 results, but the difficulty of combating a threat that now issues from many different quarters at once. One of these is the record of Mr Juppe's government, which may be why he attenuated his statements of last week about slashing public spending over the coming year, with a promise to couple that with a plan to "relieve the pressure of taxation".

Another comprises the external risks from left and right. The risk from the right comes from the far right. At present, the National Front is not represented in parliament. If, however, it can repeat its presidential election showing of 15 per cent, it could hold a balance in a finely balanced parliament. This eventuality terrifies the mainstream left and right.

But other risks to the centre-right majority are internal: from supporters of former prime minister, Edouard Balladur and the recent election of the ambitious Francois Leotard as leader of the UDF - currently the junior partner in the coalition.

Both Mr Juppe yesterday and the RPR general secretary, Jean-Francois Mancel, made a point of exhorting Gaullists to stick with the coalition as though this was in doubt. The Gaullists were told in no uncertain terms that unless they retained the coalition, the chances of remaining in government beyond 1998 were nil.

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
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
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

Teaching Assistant

£12024: Randstad Education Leeds: Teaching Assistant September 2014 start - te...

Physics Teacher

£130 - £162 per day + UPS: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term ...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn