Dominique de Villepin,
French public official, was named prime minister in May. He replaced Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who stepped down under pressure from President Jacques Chirac days after France rejected a referendum on a new constitution for Europe. Many people who voted against the constitution were outraged with the appointment, claiming that in nominating a close aide—and member of France's elite—who has never been elected to office, Chirac proved he is out of touch with the population's concern over the economy. Villepin was an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, and he infuriated many members of the Bush administration who considered his protestations inflexible and arrogant.
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