INTRODUCTION: Only a few votes in the French presidential elections on Sunday (10 May) could decide whether the country swings to the left under a socialist, or remains on a centre-right course for seven more years.
GV INTERIOR French reporter asking question
CU Francois Mitterrand answering
CU Giscard d'Estaing answering. GV French reporter interrupting. CU Giscard continuing answer (4 shots)
CU Mitterrand speaking
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Only a few votes in the French presidential elections on Sunday (10 May) could decide whether the country swings to the left under a socialist, or remains on a centre-right course for seven more years. Despite the apparent consolidation of leftist support behind Socialist Francois Mitterrand, and the strong rightist groupings behind President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, French commentators say the outcome remained wide open. On Tuesday night (5 May), the two opponents were engaged in a two-hour television debate covering unemployment. Communist ministers and foreign affairs. More than 30 million television viewers watched the confrontation.
SYNOPSIS: Questioning Monsieur Mitterrand, a French reporter said French Communist leader Georges Marchais expected three leading measures to be taken from a leftist government. They were a minimum wage for workers, a price freeze and a review of family allowances. Could a government act on these measures without referring to the National Assembly?
M. Mitterrand said he had always abided by the law, and would act according to the law.
After an exchange with M. Mitterrand and reporters, President Giscard told his opponent they were discussing important questions -- he must not let the electorate think he would have the power in May or June to take decisions which, in fact, he could not. When M. Mitterrand says "I will reduce the rate on food and drink", he may not have the right to do so. Asked if he could freeze prices, the President said that, during election periods, one never made decisions which could upset the normal running of the country. The reporter said it was not illegal. M. Giscard replied that it was against custom, and would be highly criticised. President Giscard then said to M. Mitterrand that if, as proposed he dissolved the National Assembly it was because he wanted a different form of political majority. This majority, he suggested, would contain the 26 percent vote M. Mitterrand already had -- a tally which included some communist votes -- and then he would need another 24 or 25 percent which was the entire Communist vote. M. Giscard said France had a two-stage electoral system. M. Mitterrand, he continued, said he would immediately dissolve the National Assembly, but would need to pass new election laws to do this. M. Mitterrand could then only proceed with the help of the Communist party. The president then asked what conditions the Communists would demand to agree to such a law. In a second question, M. Giscard asked M. Mitterrand what he would do after he had chosen a Prime Minister who proposed cabinet ministers who were Communist.
M. Mitterrand replied he'd already answered the first element of the question, a query not specially posed by M. Giscard, but by public opinion.