Saturday, September 3, 2011
It seems that party unity is essential, more essential than saving face. In the great clash over the "theme park tax" between the president and the former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Raffarin has emerged victorious. The Disney tax will not be raised, and lovers of Mickey can continue to be fleeced at the old rate. There wasn't enough in it for state coffers for Sarkozy to risk alienating the Raffarin faction, or shopkeepers' UMP.
With the Chirac trial set to resume on Monday, the former president's family has dramatically intervened with a letter to the court stating that "il n'a plus l'entière capacité de participer au déroulement des audiences." Who knows? Perhaps it would be a strain to appear in the dock, although he appeared lucid enough a few months ago when he waved off his handlers long enough to let the press know that he thought his fellow Corrèzien François Hollande would make a good president. It must have taken a certain lucidity to calculate such a deft way of sticking the knife between his successor's ribs. Of course, the family letter does say that the trial can proceed without him, which is perfectly true.