I’ve been hoping Emmanuel or someone would step forward and explain what happened yesterday in the French Parliament.
Here’s the New York Times version:
When FranÃ§ois Hollande, the Socialist Party leader, berated the French government for its handling of the crisis at Europe’s leading aerospace company, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin lost control.
In an outburst that was both highly personal and filled with rage, Mr. de Villepin shouted: “I denounce, Mr. Hollande, the superficiality, and I would even say, looking at you, cowardice! Cowardice! There is in your attitude, I say it again, cowardice!”
Socialist members of the Assembly tried to drown out Mr. de Villepin with cries of “Resign! Resign!” Some deputies moved forward, toward the prime minister, before storming out of the chamber.
Henri Emmanuelli, a Socialist deputy and a former president of the National Assembly, shouted, “He’s mad!”
The session â€” the regularly scheduled Tuesday hearing with Mr. de Villepin and other ministers â€” came to an abrupt end.
I mean, this would be roughly equivalent to Tony Blair losing his head and screaming at wossname, Cameron, the Tory leader on the floor of the House of Commons. Right?
The nominal cause of the outburst was Airbus, but apparently Hollande had warmed de Villepin up first with a reference to Clearstream:
Mr. Hollande asked whether the French government, a major stakeholder in EADS, continued to support the executive, NoÃ«l Forgeard.
Mr. Hollande also charged that Mr. de Villepin lacked the trust of the French people and would not regain it by filing a libel suit against three journalists. On Monday, Mr. de Villepin took the unusual step of suing the journalists, who wrote two books on a complicated financial scandal known as the Clearstream affair. It was considered a politically risky move, in that it could force him to testify about the case in court.
De Villepin is certainly under some stress. Maybe he just lost his cool? But this is French politics. I am no expert on this topic, but I do know the basic principle nothing is ever simple. (See, again, Clearstream.)
Comments from our French and Francophone readers welcome.