The next French general elections are not due to be held until next year but the Socialist leader, Francois Mitterand, has already prepared his party for the campaign with some fighting speeches.
GV AN TS Delegates at French Socialists' Congress, Nantes, France with officials on platform (2 shots)
CU Francois Mitterand, Socialist Party Secretary-General, speaking in French to delegates
SV Audience applaud
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Background: The next French general elections are not due to be held until next year but the Socialist leader, Francois Mitterand, has already prepared his party for the campaign with some fighting speeches. The French Socialist Party have been holding their national congress and on Sunday (19 June), they were addressed by Monsieur Mitterand. He told delegates that the cooperation of the French left-wing parties -- known as the Union of the Left -- was not dead, as many political observers have claimed.
SYNOPSIS: The socialists met in the city of Nantes in Western France. They began their alliance with the Communists and small left-wing radical groups in 1972. However, that alliance or "common programme" has suffered criticism and is now being revised. The main aim of the three-day congress is to find a compromise of the opposing ideas on what that revision should include.
Monsieur Mitterand leads the mainstream of his party in a general move away from the former alliance. He admitted in Nantes that differences existed between the Socialists and the Communists but added that they should unite what they had in common for the good of France. He said the Socialists would go to the general elections with the "common programme" and would be forming a new French government.
Criticism of Monsieur Mitterand has come from the left-wing "Ceres" group. The Socialist Centre of Study and Eduction -- "Ceres" for short -- is thought to be supported by about a quarter of the Socialist Party. It has been more conciliatory towards the Communists than the top Socialist leaders and has taken a more militant line on several policy issues. But Monsieur Mitterand said the unity of the party was not at risk, although unanimity was essential in the application of policies.
The Socialist leader went on to attack the present government of President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. He was also critical of various countries for their human rights records -- particularly Chile, Cambodia, the Soviet Union and Iran. He said his party would continue to speak out on violations of human rights wherever they occurred. There was no ideological conflict in the defence of freedom, he said.