When France goes to the polls a little over a week from now, its voters face the prospect of having to vote twice-on two successive Sundays because the French voting system is designed to ensure that winning candidates in the election have an absolute majority over their rivals.
GV: Eiffel Tower
GV: Arc de Triomphe and traffic
CU: Traffic lights change and CU traffic moves past.
LV: people on Champs Elysee.
SV: Montage of posters.
SCU: people in market (4 shots)
CU: money changes hands and more people.
SV: people voting (6 shots)
CU AND GV: National Assembly.
GV: Elysee Palace
SV: President Giscard and wife.
SV: Mitterand campaigning.
Cameraman's dope only
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: When France goes to the polls a little over a week from now, its voters face the prospect of having to vote twice-on two successive Sundays because the French voting system is designed to ensure that winning candidates in the election have an absolute majority over their rivals.
SYNOPSIS: In France, the end of six months of electioneering, political in-fighting and ideological wrangling is drawing to a close. After million of words, countless promises and endless argument, the choice is about to be handed to the electorate. At stake are the 491 seats in the National Assembly-and the future political direction of one of the world's major nations. But the processes by which the French people actually choose their governments are complicated, and involve many in voting twice.
The French electorate totals 33 million. Everyone over 18 is entitled to vote and in the past few weeks they have been bombarded with political propaganda covering the whole spectrum of political choice. Here in this Paris constituency of Montmartre, for example, there are eleven candidates, ranging from Gaullists and Republicans through Socialists and Communists to anarchists, feminists, ecologists, radicals, of all sorts, and the usual lunatic fringe. Voters make their choice on Sunday March 12.
If any one of the eleven candidates wins an absolute majority-that is, polls more votes than the rest put together, that candidate is elected deputy for the district. Failing that absolute majority, however, there must be a second ballot...which means, in fact, that most French men and women must vote again, on Sunday March 19.
Only candidates who polled votes totalling 12.5 percent of the registered electorate in the constituency figure in the second ballot, which means, in effect, only the big-party candidates, will be still in the fight. Capturing the votes of the losing blocs is a matter of hard bargaining and political compromise. Then, finally, a straightforward winner emerges at the second ballot-and takes a seat in the National Assembly.
If the Left wins and forms a government, it could cause a crisis at the Elysee Palace, since President Giscard d'Estaing's position could become untenable if he attempted to govern with a Prime Minister of the opposite political party. Meantime, the president must wait for the outcome of two ballots to see whether the Left, with Francois Mitterand leading them, can patch up their own differences in time to present a united front at the crucial poll on March 19.