By all logic, that affair should have damaged the political standing of President Francois Mitterrand. But Mitterrand, a Socialist, seems to have wriggled out of the affair somewhat easily, leaving behind a trap for his conservative arch-rival, Premier Jacques Chirac, who in turn seems to have slipped the trap.
Chirac's own Gaullist party, the Rally for the Republic, has never wanted government financing because it has always collected far more contributions from wealthy backers than any other party. But the Union for the French Democracy, which came to power as a partner to Chirac after the parliamentary elections of 1986, has long advocated government financing of election campaigns. In fact, former Premier [Raymond Barre] made a plea for such a law only a few days before Mitterrand.
Chirac, caught between rejecting a popular idea and letting Mitterrand seize the initiative, decided that it would be best to look as if he were taking the lead himself. He summoned the leaders of all parties to reach a consensus on an electoral financing law, but there presumably will be no special session until they all agree on a law. Chirac's delaying maneuver has been hailed in the French press as a deft way of climbing out of the trap.