One of the leading candidates in the French Presidential election campaign, M. Jacques Chaban-Delmas, refused?
One of the leading candidates in the French Presidential election campaign, M. Jacques Chaban-Delmas, refused on Tuesday (9 April) a request by the Prime Minister, M. Pierre Messmer, to stand down. Earlier in the day M. Messmer had appealed to all the candidates from the governing majority coalition to withdraw from the race, so that he, Mr. Messmer, could be the only pro-Gaullist candidate to meet the left-wing challenge from M. Francois Mitterrand.
M. Messmer's appeal came shortly after a two-minute meeting with Mr. Chaban-Delmas, who has the official backing of the Guallist party. Only M. Edgar Faure agreed to the Prime Minister's request and announced that he would no longer be a candidate. But when it became clear that none of the other main candidates -- M. Valery Giscard d'Estaing and Chaban-Delmas -- were going to withdraw, M. Faure said "If everyone stays in the race, I shall rethink my attitude".
By the evening it was clear to M. Messmer that his appeal had failed, and so he too withdrew his candidacy. This means that the three main splitting the votes of the majority coalition -- and Mitterrand who has the pledged support of the Socialists and the communists.
M. Chaban-Delmas told a news conference that he felt it was his duty to remain in the face because he believed that he was best placed to defeat M. Mitterrand. He also wanted to resume the fight for a "new society" which he had to abandon nearly two years ago when he was dismissed as Prime Minister by President Pompidou.