French general election campaigning has ended as the country prepares for ballots that could put a Left-wing alliance government in power.
GV AND CU: Paris streets covered with election posters (7 shots)
GV: ballot boxes and papers awaiting delivery
SV AND GV: Chirac being cheered by supporters at rally.
SV: Chirac speaking as supporters listen. (6 shots)
GV: Chirac being cheered as he leaves rally.
GV AND SV: Jacques Cousteau seated on election platform with others.
CU AND GV: demonstrators chanting at electioneers
GV: demonstrator throwing fish at platform and being restrained. (3 shots)
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Background: French general election campaigning has ended as the country prepares for ballots that could put a Left-wing alliance government in power. Weeks of intensive electioneering stopped at midnight on Friday (10 March), with final warnings to voters about the Left from Prime Minister Raymond Barre and President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. First-round voting starts on Sunday (12 March).
SYNOPSIS: There are five main groups contesting the elections. The three-pro-Government groupings are the Gaullist Party, known was the Rally for the Republic; the Republican Party; and the Centrist-Reformer Group. The main opposition are the Socialist and Communist Parties and their allies. The various parties' supporters have been busy papering Paris with election posters after opinion polls predicted a 51 percent lead for the Left in Sunday's fire round. Some of the strongest campaigning against the Communists and Socialists has come from Jacques Chirac, the Gaullist leader.
Chirac, who leads the rejuvenated Gaullist Party, stands for national independence in foreign polic??? and defence, for private enterprise and economic expansion, and for the use of state authority to preserv??? law and order.
In a whirlwind tour of France, he has proclaimed his faith in victory, and has drawn huge crowds at his rallies, with strong support from the young in particular. He has also sought the women's vote by promising new financial and social benefits for mothers and single-parent families, and recognition for wives assisting husbands with small businesses.
Many observers believe that Sunday's first round ballot will see the casting of many protest votes, giving the French electorate a chance to vent some spleen before voting seriously. Among the many small groups who hope to win first round votes, is the Ecological Party led by Jacques Cousteau. He claims France could economise on energy use, without lowering living standards, and remove the need for nuclear power plants. His television programme supporting wildlife and marine conservation have won him international awards and public support. But this demonstrator showed his voting intentions by throwing fish at the famous French undersea explorer - or he might have been offering him some lunch.