INTRODUCTION: In France, thousands of candidates are campaigning for municipal posts to be filled in local elections on 13 and 20 March.
INTRODUCTION: In France, thousands of candidates are campaigning for municipal posts to be filled in local elections on 13 and 20 March. One of the most keenly contested positions is the new post of Mayor of Paris.
SYNOPSIS: The personal nominee of the French President, Monsieur Valery Giscard d'Estaing, for the position is Monsieur Michel d'Ornano, the Industry Minister. The municipal elections have been seen as a curtain-raiser to a showdown between left and right in parliamentary elections just one year away. The new Mayor of Paris will fill a vacancy that has existed for a century during which time the central government has virtually run the French capital, and will have considerable influence in the political heirarchy.
M. d'Ornano is being opposed in the election by former Gaullist premier, Monsieur Jacques Chirac. Mr. Chirac had served as Premier under President Giscard d'Estaing. However, he quit his position over policy differences last August. The former Premier has seen the Paris mayoralty as a key base for organising his campaign against the left-wing Communist and Socialist parties in the forth-coming parliamentary elections. If he were to win, he would deal a serious blow to the President's prestige. The two had differed on how to meet the challenge from left-wing parties.
Altogether there will be elections for mayor in more than 36,000 villages, towns and cities throughout France. Supporters of the governing Gaullist and Independent Republicans led by the French President presently control about two-thirds of the country's town halls. However, in many towns personalities count far more than politics, and results will be difficult to measure in terms of a victory for either left or right.