The results of the first round of balloting in the French elections, indicate at least the possibility of Socialist-Communist government taking power in France.
The results of the first round of balloting in the French elections, indicate at least the possibility of Socialist-Communist government taking power in France. This could pose problems for President Giscard d'Estaing. With President and government at loggerheads, there could be a new general election-and perhaps even a Presidential election.
SYNOPSIS: When he ran for President in 1974, Valery Giscard d'Estaing tacked his banner to a programme of change. It brought him a narrow victory over his opponent, the Socialist leader Franco is Mitterrand. But it seems Giscard's promise of a new look in the political economic and social life of the country did not work sufficiently well to impress the French electorate four year later. For this week, Mitterrand stands poised to mount a new threat to Giscard. If the Leftward swing of the election is carried through to the second round of voting this coming weekend, Mitterrand-as probable leader of a new government-and Giscard as President may well find themselves in contention once more for the leadership of France.
And yet throughout the four years he has been in office, Giscard has tried to maintain the momentum of his promise. Whether opening a new Paris underground station or launching with groups of ordinary working people-one of his early schemes to bring the Presidency down from its pedestal-Giscard has attempted to bring some sense of style into his administration. And his achievements have been in line with his promise. Lowering the voting age to 18, legalising abortion, liberalising divorce laws, ending job discrimination cutting property speculation and constructing new roads across traffic-clogged paris are some of the practical advances he has made.
Giscard's foreign policy has been notable for at least one precedent. He became the first President of France to visit independent Algeria-thirteen years after Algeria won its freedom from France. Giscard also aimed at binding French Africa closer to France. At Versailles, he was host to the Presidents of Senegal and Ivory Coast and a series of journeys kept him in touch with the leaders of all former French countries.
And under Giscard's leadership Paris became once more a diplomatic port of call of prime importance. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev made it his first stop on his first visit to Western Europe for two-and-a-half years. That was in 1977, shortly after Brezhnev had been elected President of the Soviet Union as well as Communist party leader.
This year, American President Carter included Paris on his itinerary for a seven nation tour. The French and American leaders stood together at the monument to American dead which overlooks Omaha Beach in Normandy, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the World War Two D-Day landings. President Carter's visit was seen as a useful boost to Giscard, as French domestic politics warmed up for the election, as well as a sign of improvement in Franco-American relations.
And yet, neither domestic nor foreign policies appear to have wholly convinced France that Giscard's brand of government is enough.