Apres Delors...

Jacques Delors' surprise decision not to seek France's presidency virtually guarantees that a conservative will succeed Socialist President Franois Mitterrand. But first, the Right will likely weather a nasty family quarrel.

The main beneficiary is Gaullist leader Jacques Chirac, who will likely take on the front-runner, Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, a more moderate Gaullist, in the April first round. European union is likely to be the big issue. Balladur will try to woo pro-European centrists who liked Delors. Chirac, who is cool on monetary union, appeals to France's many Euroskeptics. Neither wants the tight federal Europe pushed by Delors, the outgoing president of the European Commission. Chirac may also argue for loosening Balladur's strong-franc policy, letting interest rates fall to create jobs. Delors' bowing out dropped the franc to its year low against the mark.