French politics are in turmoil, with a risk of greater polarization between left and right. Michel Rocard's June 19 ouster as head of the Socialist Party--the result of the party's dismal showing in European parliamentary elections--probably dooms his shot at the French presidency next spring. The left now has no strong candidate except Jacques Delors, president of the European Commission. New party head Henri Emmanuelli thinks centrism is killing the Socialists and aims to push them leftward.
The right also has its woes. After a strong European showing, the far right, which opposes a tight European union and backs economic protectionism, is leaning on the ruling right coalition. That may help Gaullist leader Jacques Chirac, who is in a tug-of-war with the more centrist Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.