France. It stormed during the year around President
Jacques Chirac, who was accused of corruption during his
tenure as mayor of Paris 1977-95. In March, he was ordered
to testify in an ongoing investigation into illegal
contributions to his Gaullist party RPR, and during the
summer came new disclosures about cash payments on millions
for holiday trips with the family.
But Chirac refused to be heard on the basis of immunity
for the head of state and in October got the right in the
highest court. However, the Court made clear that the
immunity only applies as long as he is president.
to Countryaah, the main rival to the 2002 presidential election, Prime
Minister Lionel Jospin, presented himself as an honorable
candidate in comparison to Chirac. But at the end of the
year, Jospin was also called in to testify in a corruption
investigation. Furthermore, in June, after media
disclosures, he had to admit that he had been a Trotskyist
in the 1960s, despite having previously denied such rumors.
Before the municipal elections held in March, the
socialists had predicted successes. They also won
surprisingly in the capital, which has had bourgeois rule
since the Paris municipality in 1871, and in the third
largest city of Lyon. In total, the Left went back and
received only 45% of the votes, against 47% for the
In March, France became the first country on the
continent where the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease was
discovered in cows and sheep, following the major outbreak
in Britain. The EU imposed an export ban on cloven animals
and meat products, but there was no major epidemic and in
April the bans were lifted. The number of cases of BSE, or
mad cow disease, on the other hand, continued to increase.
In September, 29 people were killed and close to 3,000
injured when a violent explosion occurred in a factory in