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Europeans Wistful As US Gets New Chief

Clinton's inauguration has French wishing for fresh, young leadership

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AS Bill Clinton raises his hand to take the oath of office, the French and much of the rest of Europe, it seems, are looking on with a serious case of envy.

"Clinton's election made me realize just how long our leaders have been around, on the left and the right," says Isabelle Jounent as she keeps one eye on her daughter playing in a Paris park. "We, too, need some new faces."

The young mother is not alone in her thinking. With fresh polls showing better than two-thirds of the French disapproving of the Socialist leadership they first elected to power in 1981, analysts say Mr. Clinton's arrival in Washington reinforces widespread desire here for change.

"The French people clearly envy the Americans their ability to renew their political leadership," says Pascal Perrineau, director of the Center for French Political Life Studies here.

"All the polls indicate what everyone assumes, that French voters will turn out the Socialists for a parliamentary majority of the right in March elections," Mr. Perrineau adds.

"What distresses the French is that it is already destined to be a change to the same politicians, and Clinton's arrival only reinforces the sense of dissatisfaction."

From Germany and Denmark in the north to Italy and Spain in the south, the sentiment is much the same.

Voters are comparing Clinton - who is 46, of the post-World-War-II generation, a saxophone player, and who opposed the Vietnam war as a college student - with their own leaders, many of whom have been in power for most of the past decade, and feel a heightened desire for fresh faces in politics. A host of familiar faces


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