INTRODUCTION: France's Socialist-Communist Alliance swept to victory in the nationwide municipal elections on Sunday (20 March) - but with the biggest prize - the Mayorship of Paris - almost certainly going to Gaullist leader Jacques Chirac.
SV French Gaullist leader Jacques Chirac speaking to newsmen in Paris, France.
Initials VS 20.25
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: France's Socialist-Communist Alliance swept to victory in the nationwide municipal elections on Sunday (20 March) - but with the biggest prize - the Mayorship of Paris - almost certainly going to Gaullist leader Jacques Chirac. The left captured more than 50 large towns from the government, winning an estimated 52.5 per cent of the National vote against 46 per cent for President Valery Giscard D'Estaing's ruling liberal-conservative coalition.
SYNOPSIS: The Gaullists, the biggest group in the three-party governing coalition, were delighted with the performance of their champion, Jacques Chirac, who is almost certain to become the first Mayor of Paris for a century. The post has only just been revived - and it's reckoned to be second in its power only to the Presidency itself. M. Chirac's victory, however, was M. Giscard D'Estaing's loss. The President's own candidate for the post, Industry Minister Michael D'Orano, was beaten in the second round vote and his overall list of candidates were far less successful than those of Gaullist leader. This was seen as further damaging the President's declining prestige and stock market prices on the Paris exchange slumped four per cent in five minutes.
After receiving word of his victory, Mr. Chirac paid a visit to Paris City Hall where Gaullists supporters were on hand to greet their victor. But in a more sober mood, speaking at a news conference later about the overall leftist victory, he said great numbers of men and women had voted socialist in the belief that they were voting for Socialism in Europe, of the same nature which they had always known in France.
But, he said, what they hadn't realised was that the Socialist Party of France had fundamentally changed, that it had become a reality a party totally and definitely united with the French Communist party.