With Parliamentary elections in France less than a month away, the political parties are now gathering their forces for the final stages of the campaign.
With Parliamentary elections in France less than a month away, the political parties are now gathering their forces for the final stages of the campaign. One little-known but highly influential figure in the party struggle is Monsieur Jean-Pierre Soisson, the Secretary General of the Republican Party, the party of President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.
SYNOPSIS: President Giscard chose Auxerre, a country town on the northern borders of Brugundy, for his first major campaign speech. M. Soisson is Mayor of Auxerre, and was there in his sash of office to welcome his political leader and introduce many of the citizens to him. M. Soisson's family have been in business in Auxerre since the eighteen century.
He himself was elected parliamentary deputy for the department, Yonne, ten years ago. Like President Giscard and many other leading figures in French public life, he is a graduate of the National School of Administration. After serving with the French army in Algeria, he entered government service, and became a junior minister in 1974.
A routine constituency occasion-and a genuine country welcome for M. Soisson.
M. Soisson was visiting Charny, a small town in Yonne, to open a new tax office. He no longer holds government office. He resigned his post as Secretary of State for Youth and Sport when he was appointed Secretary General of the Republican Party last May.
M. Soisson went to work to mould an electoral force, and last month the Prime Minister, Mr. Raymone Barre, attended a mass rally in Paris to meet the party's election candidates. The decision to reshape the President's party was taken after the success of the left-wing parties in last year's municipal elections, and the widening split between it and is Gaullist allies, under Mr. Jacques Chirac.
M. Soisson, who is 42, has a great personal regard for President Giscard. And they share a basic idea of how France should be governed.
The Republican Party, says Mr. Soisson, is neither of the left nor the right. It is essentially a party of the centre. And the government of France should be one of the centre. Because that, he believes is the wish of the true majority.