In France, about 15,000 people converged on the Paris suburb of Sarcelle on Tuesday (28 February) to attend a Communist Party election rally.
In France, about 15,000 people converged on the Paris suburb of Sarcelle on Tuesday (28 February) to attend a Communist Party election rally. With the first round of general election polling taking place on the 12th of March, campaigning is reaching fever pitch.
SYNOPSIS: Communist Party Secretary-General Georges Marchais was no exception in adding fuel to the political fires. He renewed his appeal to the two former member parties of the left-wing coalition to re-open discussions on a Common Programme. Their unified front collapsed last year after disagreements on defence and nationalisation.
Recent opinion polls indicate that if the Communists and Socialists fail to reach an electoral agreement between the first and second rounds of the election process the present government coalition headed by President Valery Giscard d'Estaing would be easy winners. However in his speech on Tuesday Monsieur Marchais laid more emphasis on social reform than on political technicalities.
The Communist leader accused the present government of protecting the interests of rich industrialists who wish for only one thing -- an increase of their profits. He linked this with the government austerity programme and said it was causing the poor to suffer but not the rich. Projecting changes the Communists would bring about, Monsieur Marchais said they wanted an increase in salaries for lower paid workers based on a ratio of one to five -- in other words the lowest paid would get one fifth of the money received by the most senior executives.
Monsieur Marshais also told the rally that the Communists would push for a 40 hour working week -- later reduced to 35 hours and legislation to give all women workers the right to 18 weeks of maternity leave. According to French newspaper reports Monsieur Marchais was given a standing ovation by the crowd.