The French President, Jacques Chirac, has appeared on state television to answer critics who claim that he must change the government after months of political upset.
“I gave a road map to the government,” he said. “It took that on and stuck to it calmly and with success. I have no reason whatsoever to stop it from continuing this work with determination.” President Chirac said it would be up to the people to decide the fate of his government at elections set for next year. “Jacques Chirac is the only French person who thinks everything’s going well, that the government’s working correctly, that projects are advancing and time’s not being lost,” said a spokesman for the opposition Socialists, Julien Dray. “Clearly he’s not heard the anger expressed in recent months, the terrible protest that gripped the country, criticism even within his own ranks.” Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has struggled to implement reforms and deal with widespread rioting, and has had to fight off claims of a smear campaign against his own interior minister.