INTRODUCTION: The French election campaign has been dominated by economic issues, particularly unemployment.
PARIS, MARCH 1981. GV Market area, stalls with produce and woman shopper getting money out (2 shots)
GV & BV Meat counter and man buying from stall keeper (2 shots)
GVs & CU Man buying cheese and man with woman and child watching fish being cut (3 shots)
GV Valery Giscard d'Estaing election posters (2 shots)
GV & LV Jacques Chirac election posters (2 shots)
GV Francois Mitterrand posters
GV George Marcha is posters (2 shots)
GV Posters of two left-wing women candidates, Arlette Laguiller and Huguette Bouchardeau (3 shots)
GV People coming out of employment exchange (3 shots)
GV Idle Renault factory and men standing around outside (3 shots)
GV & SVs Men working on construction site (5 shots)
GV Man greeting each other on street (2 shots)
GV Black men gathered outside cafe
GVs Housing estate with high-rise flats, Marcha is banners hanging from balconies (4 shots)
GV Old people chatting in park (5 shots)
SV INTERIOR Silhouettes of people drinking in bar (4 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The French election campaign has been dominated by economic issues, particularly unemployment. The policies of President Valery Giscard d'Estaing's government came under attack after the latest figures showed unemployment had increased a further three and a half per cent, to over one and a half million people. Monsieur Giscard has blamed rising oil prices and the international recession for France's economic troubles. But his opponents have dismissed these reasons, and have offered various programmes for economic recovery and full employment.
SYNOPSIS: The French consumer has fared relatively well, compared to many of his fellow Europeans during the last few years of the recession. The French economy actually produced about one and a half per cent more in 1980 than the year before and retail prices only rose about 14 per cent -- compared to Britain's 18 per cent. Yet various polls suggest that French voters have a low opinion of the economic achievements of the government.
The President's campaign was not helped by a recent official report detailing the spread of poverty, homelessness and illiteracy. His right-wing opponent has suggested solutions similar to the British monetarist ones -- and left-wing candidates have capitalised on the statistics and promised a new social order. But the minority candidates have alleged that none of the big four will do much for the poor.
However, it is the issue of unemployment which has dominated the campaign. And each of the four main candidates has tried to convince those on the dole queue that he has the best plan for getting Frenchmen back to work.
Chirac has suggested tax relief for major companies, saying it will invigoratic industry. Mitterrand has suggested a mildly reflationary programme and a reduction of working hours. The Communists also want to cut the working week. The President himself launched his campaign by releasing the details of a scheme to create one million entra jobs by 1985.
The Communities raised the controversial issue of one and a half million non-European immigrant workers in France, later taken up by the President himself, who said he would increase the so-called "go-home" bonuses to encourage immigrants to leave. The feeling in many public housing estates mirrors a racial backlash that is growing throughout Europe as unemployment grows. But the Communists have been denounced for fanning resentment about the jobs and housing available to four million resident foreigners.
Giscard has also suggested that at least 700,000 jobs could be created if workers were allowed to retire at fifty-eight instead of sixty.
On Friday (24 April) observers said there was a growing confidence among at wing voters that the battle for the Presidency would be fought between the incumbent and Monsieur Chirac. But the Socialists and Communists continued to campaign vigorously, and it remains to be seen whether French voters will opt for a radically different government, or continue their tradition of returning centre-right or right-wing candidates.