INTRODUCTION: President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France, stung by local election setbacks, has called on the nation's rival government coalition partners to seal a pact healing their divisions as the best way to remain in power.
SV AND MV Elysee Palace, Paris, France.
MVs EXTERIOR Minister of Culture leaves meeting. (2 shots)
MVs Other cabinet ministers leaving meeting. (4 shots)
MV Prince Michel Poniatowski leaves meeting.
MV Prime Minister Raymond Barre leaving, surrounded by newsmen.
MV Barre driving off in car.
Initials VS 17.25
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France, stung by local election setbacks, has called on the nation's rival government coalition partners to seal a pact healing their divisions as the best way to remain in power. The President's appeal for a "frank and loyal pact" between the ruling majority parties -- Gaullists, Independent Republicans and Centrists -- was his first response to the heavy losses suffered by the government in last week's nationwide municipal elections.
SYNOPSIS: On Wednesday (23 March) the government's cabinet gathered at the Elysee Palace for its first meeting since the elections. President Giscard told his ministers that the ruling coalition was still capable of winning the 1978 general election, adding that the majority must give top priority to ending its divisions.
At the meeting Deputy Finance Minister Michel Durafour and Commerce Minister Pierre Brousse, both beaten in municipal contest, offered the President their resignations, but they were not accented. The Socialist-Communist opposition scored dramatic gains in the local elections, taking 60 large towns from government control and strengthening the left-wing challenge for the parliamentary elections next year.
Some Cabinet members have blamed the Government's electoral decline on the coalition split between President Giscard's Independent Republicans and the Gaullists, led by former Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. M. Chirac himself scored one of the Government's few successes when he was voted in as Paris Mayor.