Politicians need to keep their houses in order, as French finance chief Hervé Gaymard found last week. Gaymard one of Jacques Chirac's rising stars, with a brief that included government cost cutting resigned under pressure over his housing expenses. He claimed to be insufficiently wealthy to buy his own pad, but in fact holds a property portfolio that includes three apartments and two country houses. And he isn't the only minister in the hot seat these days. Here's a sample ...
WHO Hervé Gaymard, France's ex-Finance Minister
THE SCANDAL Moved wife, eight children, and five servants into a €14,000-a-month Paris apartment; taxpayers footed the bill
HIS DEFENSE "If I hadn't been the son of a cobbler ... I'd be the owner of my own home and this affair would never have arisen."
WHAT NEXT? Could help mentor Chirac find a new proxy to battle fellow conservative foe, Nicolas Sarkozy
WHO Stanislav Gross, Czech Prime Minister
THE SCANDAL Faces calls to resign unless he can explain how he paid for his luxury Prague flat in 1999, and his wife gives up her business interests (she has said she will)
HIS DEFENSE Maintains that he borrowed money from a
WHAT NEXT? His coalition is on the brink of collapse, but he could still remain PM with the support of other political parties
WHO Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister and leader of the Green Party
THE SCANDAL A parliamentary committee is investigating allegations that he presided over lax visa rules, resulting
in a surge in immigration
HIS DEFENSE Blame the staff: "For the possible lapses and mistakes of my employees, I bear the political responsibility."
WHAT NEXT? Lost his rank last week as the country's most popular pol, but is unlikely to quit