At the age of 57, French Socialist leader Francois Mitterand is making his second bid for the Presidency of France.
(PARIS 1974) SCU Mitterand greets others on platform audience listens
SCU Mitterand speaks (PARIS 1975)
TRAVEL SHOT Election posters
SCU Mitterand through crowds
SCU Mitterand speaks (PARIS 1978)
GV Massed crowd chanting
CU People in crowds and Do Gaulle poster
GV Mitterand speaking (PARIS 1973)
GV Deserted rail lines and streets
GV Military trucks and traffic jams
SCU Mitterand in street with marchers (PARIS 1974)
SCU Mitterand enters TV studio
GV Mitterand aits, Chaban-Delmas in
CU Mitterand sitting among newsmen
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Background: At the age of 57, French Socialist leader Francois Mitterand is making his second bid for the Presidency of France. When the French electorate goes to the polls on Sunday, 5 May, it is likely he will come out ahead of his two right-wing opponents but will then face a second run-off against one of his two right-wing opponents.
M. Mitterand, who goes into the Presidential race with the backing of both Socialist and Communist parties, has an outstanding record in French politics, in which he has been a mainstay for the past 30 years.
He was a member of the first post-war De Gaulle government at the age of 29 and has served in a total of eleven governments since then.
However, his career fell into the decline with the return of General De Gaulle to the Presidency during the 1960s. Mitterand, at that time, was labelled as a man who never quite reached the top and critics attributed his lack of complete success to a suggestion of duplicity which surrounded his political manouverings.
But in 1965, M. Mitterand confounded his critics and astounded even his friends when he entered the Presidential race against De Gaulle and succeeded in forcing the French leader into an embarrassing second poll -- and even then Mitterand gained 45 per cent of the vote.
That defeat put M. Mitterand in further difficulty. The Socialist party fell into disarray and he resigned from the leadership for a short time. But the fact is there is nobody else with the same durability and stature as Mitterand anywhere on the left of French politics.
The dneasy alliance he has constructed with the Communist party is a remarkable tribute to his personal position, considering that he was for a long time considered by the Communists as an enemy of the working class.
Mitterand himself was one of the eight children of a provincial railway worker. In his early days, he demonstrated a remarkable intellectual capacity and his scademic career brought him degrees in both law and political science.
At the same time, he has enormous appeal for the great mass of French workers from whom he draws his support. Long experience as an orator has given him an easy, casual style of speaking and a natural wit.
What may, in the end, deny him the Presidency is the concern felt by many French voters over his ability to control the most violent aspects of the Communist element in his alliance. And yet, while Communist support is vital to him in the election campaign, Mitterand's supporters claim that he is politically strong enough to contain the Communists, should he gain power. And this is the argument he must put over to the majority of French voters if he is to succeed.