Thursday, May 18, 2006

More Muddy Waters in 'Clearstream' Affair!

The latest news in the French thriller-like political scandal (see here, and here), the poison-pen letter writer (corbeau - 'raven' or 'crow' - in French) has been found - a senior French arms industry executive has admitted writing an anonymous letter at the heart the scandal shaking the government (but even though the executive vice-president of EADS is allegedly a close friend of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, he denied it was to help him smear his rival Sarkozy).
As expected, De Villepin's cabinet survived the no-confidence vote in Parliament on Tuesday but more than half of the representatives of his own party boycotted his speech. The scandal has been so damaging within the ranks of the majory party (UMP) and within the cabinet that President Jacques Chirac had to lecture his ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, telling them they must work harder at advertising government successes on jobs and the economy.
Because it is such a complicated issue (if you don't know how much, you cn always read this), it has failed to become a real 'popular' scandal. That does not mean it is not going to cost the Conservativy party some votes in next year's elections. The scandal may be hard to read for most of us who are not in the elite circles but the idea that there is corruption at the top level is the basic stuff that people get. Not that anybody is surprised.

To end on a more 'exciting' twist- the latest developments make the scandal look more like a thriller than ever before:
Jean-Louis Gergorin claims he had to write anonymously because he feared for his life. He believed that the a core shareholder in EADS and its founder, Jean-Luc Lagardere, who died in hospital in 2003 aged 75 under mysterious circumstances (described as a rare disease) was actually murdered by the Russian mafia! ( here in French). Paranoia runs high.

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