INTRODUCTION: French voters go to the polls on Sunday (26 April) to choose the person will be President for the next seven years.
PARIS: CU Billboard with picture of Presidential candidate Valery Giscard d'Estaing
SV Large billboard with picture of Socialist candidate Francois Mitterrand and posters (2 shots) with Socialist slogans
CU Large poster with picture and slogans of Gaullist candidate Jacques Chirac
CU PULL BACK Portrait and poster advertising Communist candidate Georges Marchais (2 shots)
PARIS, MARCH 1981: GVs Banner suggesting that 18-year old should vote for Giscard, young man in hat with sparklers and other youths waving sparklers to rock music (3 shots)
GVs Giscard arriving to tumultuous applause (2 shots)
CU Giscard at podium trying to call for order as crowd continues chanting his name (2 shots)
GV Giscard waving to crowd
SV PULL BACK TO GV Stadium field decorated with large letters spelling out "Chirac for President", coloured balloons on field
GV Chirac and wife arrive on large decorated stage as crowd cheers (2 shots)
GV Balloons drifting into air as rally ends
CU Poster of Mitterrand rolled, bundles of posters packed and loaded onto van (3 shots)
SCU Mitterrand at table with advisers as newsmen take pictures (2 shots)
BREST: LV Rock singer in front of huge banner saying "L'autre politique"
SV Mitterrand mounts stage carrying single rose and stands at podium
GV & SV Mitterrand addressing audience (2 shots)
SV Marchais greeted by admirers in district of Paris and shaking hands with people
GV Marchais continues to walk through milling crowd (2 shots)
LV Marchais surrounded by supporters, one carrying a Communist flag
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Background: INTRODUCTION: French voters go to the polls on Sunday (26 April) to choose the person will be President for the next seven years. The contest will be decided in two stages, with voters returning to the polls on the tenth of May to choose between two finalists. There will be ten names on the ballot, though incumbent President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Socialist Francois Mitterrand, Gaullist Jacques Chirac and Communist Georges Marchais have emerged as the so-called "big four". The last official opinion poll, carried out a week before voting day (19 April) revealed that both Monsieur Giscard d'Estaing and Monsieur Mitterrand were losing potential votes to the Gaullist, Monsieur Chirac. But other polls throughout the campaign have indicated that the final contest will be a repeat of the 1974 one, a close fight between Monsieur Giscard and Monsieur Mitterrand.
SYNOPSIS: The incumbent, President Giscard, has had the uneasy task of defending his record in office, while the three other main candidates have tabled radical alternatives for the future. France has been dominated by a centre-right tradition for almost 25 years -- a pattern the Gaullists would be happy to continue, but the Socialists and Communists would like to break in this election.
President Giscard officially opened his campaign at a youth rally, attempting, to woo six million young people who will be voting for the first time. An estimated 30-thousand young people participated in an afternoon of disco, doughnuts and soft drinks.
The tumultuous reception marked the beginning of Giscard's campaign as the so-called "citizen's candidate". The day before the rally he announced a seven-point job creation scheme, showing he was well aware that unemployment among the young was one of the most sensitive issues of the campaign.
Former Prime Minister Jacques Chirac is offering himself as the only non-left-wing alternative to the man he once worked for. His slick campaign has apparently attracted disillusioned landowners and businessmen who don't like Giscard's style or policies.
Monsieur Chirac accuses President Giscard of promoting vague policies -- about the Common Market, Poland and Afghanistan. An admirer of American President Ronald Reagan, Chirac is apparently preferred by French bosses by a margin of two-to-one.
Francois Mitterrand, the oldest of the main four candidates, at sixty-five, is fighting his third Presidential campaign. In 1974 he came within five hundred thousand votes of winning the Presidency. And despite gloomy prophesies that Mitterrand was doomed to failure, the polls quickly showed him level with the incumbent.
The Socialist manifesto promotes limited nationalisation, tax reform, helping the lower paid, shorter working hours and improved social services. But if he is to succeed, Monsieur Mitterrand needs to attract three million people who usually cast their vote for the Communists. However, the Communist leader, Georges Marchais has fiercely attacked the Socialist programme for a so-called "gentle shift to the left".
Georges Marchais is a popular leader with a talent for showmanship. But since the collapse of the so-called "union of the left" in 1974 he has stuck to the hardline motto -- "Profit is waste, make the rich pay", while the Socialists have softened their line. Marchais is expected to win about twenty percent of the vote in the first round -- but it is his advice to Communists in the second which will help determine the final outcome of the French presidential elections.