Corridors of Power: the Political Year in Europe, Hezbollah Rockets and More

A BIG POLITICAL YEAR IN EUROPE -- Politically, 2007 promises to be an action packed year in Europe, and here's a sampling: In May, the French presidential elections will bring to a close the Chirac era and perhaps see the installation of France's first woman president, the Socialist candidate Segolene Royal. In Britain, another political career reaches its twilight when Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair makes way for his successor-in-waiting Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, either in September or earlier.

Fresh trouble looms in Kosovo after the U.N. mediator Martti Ahtisaari in January presents his recommendations on what to do about the status of the strife-addicted province. "It is unlikely to be a solution that satisfies all sides," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier predicted ominously to der Spiegel magazine. Also in January, Germany takes over as the six-month rotating president of the European Union, now grown to 27 member states with the admission of Bulgaria and Romania.

The Germans have compiled a strong agenda designed to boost Chancellor Angela Merkel's ambitions of leading Europe's regeneration, including an attempt to revive the defeated European draft constitution in a form that would be more broadly palatable, a more determined and assertive EU approach to the Palestine-Israel deadlock, and an effort to rekindle the European idea. A current EU survey revealed that support in Europe for the European Union has dropped from 70 percent in 1990 to 53 percent today.

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